VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 saw a number of relatively unknown kabaddi players perform well for their team and make their presence felt. Although all eyes were on the big buys of the teams, many smaller names worked hard virtually unnoticed for their team’s cause. We look at some of these players who didn’t demand a high price before the season but went on to prove much more valuable nevertheless:

Nitesh Kumar - U.P. Yoddha (Rs 6,00,000)

U.P. Yoddha had a number of defensive woes at the start of the season. Their raiding department was firing, with skipper Nitin Tomar and Rishank Devadiga scoring fast, but a lot games came down to the wire owing to their defensive failures. All that changed when the young brigade of the Yoddha came into their own midway through the season. Right-corner Nitesh Kumar slowly started gaining confidence and became the mainstay of the U.P. defence. He scored 47 tackle points from 19 games and, along with Sagar Krishna, made sure U.P. Yoddha featured in the playoffs.

Vishal Bhardwaj - Telugu Titans (Rs 6,00,000)

Telugu Titans had a forgettable campaign in Season 5 with neither the defence nor attack contributing consistently. Captain Rahul Chaudhari was on the bench for long durations because of defensive failures and had to watch his team lose without being able to help. One young man who took on the mantle of handling defence when things got tough was young Vishal Bhardwaj. The 21-year-old showed remarkable maturity and, at a time when stalwarts like Rohit Rana failed to fire, he assumed the role of the team’s main defender.

Darshan - Tamil Thalaivas (Rs 7,70,000)

Another young defender who made a huge mark this season was Tamil Thalaivas’ Darshan. He was brought into the team to support star defender Amit Hooda; however, he managed to share in the responsibility with the star tackler in equal measure. His perfectly timed dashes made it difficult for opposition players to enter deep into the Tamil Thalaivas half of the mat. He scored 40 points from 20 games but was able to instil fear in opposition raiders when they tried for a bonus, which was much more valuable to his team.

Vijay - Patna Pirates (Rs 6,00,000)

Patna Pirates became known mainly for their two star raiders, Dubki King Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat. However, one player whose contribution was vital to the side’s cause on a number of occasions was Vikas. He justified his all-rounder tag throughout the league and came to the team’s rescue whenever they needed. He was able to help pull off Super Tackles when the team were down to less than four men and could also revive key players when he went in to raid. His utility to the team was unquestionable and the young lad will only grow from here.

Rohit Gulia - Gujarat Fortunegiants (Rs 6,00,000)

One of the most impressive players from the NYP (New Young Player) category, Rohit Gulia was used effectively by Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh. On several occasions, Gulia did not start the match for the Fortunegiants but was instead brought in as a substitute when the team needed an effective raider. And the youngster responded brilliantly time and time again, picking up points and reviving the team’s key members from the bench. He had to fight for his place in the team with the likes of Sachin, Mahendra Rajput, Chandran Ranjit and Sukesh Hegde, but young Gulia still ended up holding his own, which says a lot about the raider’s ability.