VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 threw up some excellent performances from both raiders and defenders. But there were some who showcased their overall skills in the game and gave the team the option of including more specialists by backing up both departments.
An all-rounder, perhaps, is the most active player in the side. At one moment he may have to strategise a plan to get a raid point and the next he has to position himself to tackle an opposition raider. They are not usually the top scorers in the league but their utility is invaluable to their team’s cause.
Here are a few all-rounders who could carry their Season 5 momentum into the upcoming campaign.
When Iranian Meraj Sheykh is on the mat he ensures that the team is in the hunt, be it with his stealthy raids or strong holds. Meraj is one of the rare kabaddi players whose ability as a front line defender is at par with his raiding abilities. Sheykh’s efforts ensured his team were able to stay in the game till the end on many occasions.
Adept in the Scorpion Kick and the Frog Jump while raiding, it’s a testament to his flexibility and athleticism. In defence, his mix of springing Ankle and Thigh Holds often from the crouching, stalking stance he usually adopts on the mat often catch the raiders by surprise. It’s why he emerged as the top all-rounder of Season 5 with 104 points, and the only one go past a century.
Corner Defender Sandeep Narwal is also a specialist raider when the opposition is reduced to three or less raiders. Narwal’s quick footedness and straight forward raiding technique make him a prime candidate for cleaning the opposition up before they have a chance to make a recovery. He keeps his head down and patiently sizes up the defence before striking. As a defender, Narwal has one of the strongest Dashes in the game and can also hold down opposition raiders with his brute strength till his team mates rush in to overpower them.
Narwal comes across as a smart player, unafraid to take calculated risks, and has a range of defensive moves that can complement the team’s other defenders and back them up in any situation. He scored 85 points in Season 5 and was the season’s second most successful defender behind Meraj Sheykh.
One of the most complete players in the game, Deepak Hooda has worked relentlessly on his fitness and speed in order to hone his skills as an all-rounder. An excellent raider whose Running Hand Touch at full stretch, can catch even the best defenders napping, Hooda’s three High 5s and five Super Tackles in VIVO Pro Kabaddi, showcase how handy he is, when it comes to helping his team in the defensive department.
Recently Hooda even took up duties as a Cover Defender for the Indian national kabaddi team in the 2018 Kabaddi Masters Dubai, where the team struck gold, and at the Asian Games. His natural athletic ability coupled with his commitment to his team make him the ideal man to lend balance to any kabaddi side.
Nitin Rawal started off Season 5 as a Corner Defender who went in to raid only when the team really needed it. However, over the course of the campaign, Rawal proved his credentials as a raider and was sent in more regularly to raid. Coming from the same team as ‘One Man Army’ Manjeet Chhillar, Rawal added to Jaipur Pink Panthers’ already impressive all-round strength and quickly became the team’s go to man. With two Super 10s and four Super Raids to his credit, Rawal proved that he is an able raider who steal quick Bonuses and plan brilliant escapes as easily as he can safeguard the team’s corner.
He was tied as the season’s second best all-rounder at 85 points with Sandeep Narwal with 65 of those coming from raids and just 20 from tackles. More is expected of this young talent this season.
The heavily built Ran Singh was an integral part of the impenetrable Bengal Warriors defence that terrorised many teams through Season 5. His intimidating frame amply exhibits what a dangerous man he is when executing a hold or carrying his momentum into a dash, but it doesn’t betray what a nimble-footed raider he is on the other side of the mat. When his team is down, and their top raiders are sent on the bench, Singh can turn up the heat and return quick touch points in order to revive his mates and keep his team in the hunt throughout.
He scored 64 points from 23 games and his partnership with Surjeet Singh was instrumental in his team’s progress in the league. Many times when he was the last man on the mat he returned valuable points for the team while raiding which rescued his team from an all-out. When this mountain of a man is on the mat, the Warriors may be down, but can never be counted out.