VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 finally reached its conclusion with Patna Pirates lifting the trophy for a record third time this past Saturday. Dubki King Pardeep Narwal was the toast of the season but a number of others also performed exceptionally well and made their presence felt. Here we pick the top performers of the season based on their numbers and influence in an effort to assemble a Dream Team for Season 5.
1. Surender Nada (Defender, Left Corner) - Haryana Steelers
The most effective defender of the season who walked away with the highest number of tackle points was the obvious choice to lead the defence. Surender Nada scored a massive 80 tackle points from 21 games and even broke the record for most consecutive High 5s by scoring five on the trot in Haryana’s first five games of the season. Nada’s ankle holds and blocks made him the most lethal defender of the season. He also affected six super tackles and kept his team from facing an All-Out on many occasions. He was instrumental in Haryana making their way to the playoffs in their debut season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi.
2. Mahender Singh (Defender, Left Cover) – Bengaluru Bulls
Bengaluru Bulls may have failed to reach the playoffs but they had many bright sparks throughout their campaign. One such spark was their cover defender Mahender Singh who scored 57 points from 22 games, including a massive 10 tackle-point effort against U.P. Yoddha. The left cover’s ability to pull off strong dashes when the opponents least expected them makes him a huge asset to any side. Few would dare to venture too deep into the Bengaluru half with him waiting in the cover position.
3. Rohit Kumar (Raider, Left In) - Bengaluru Bulls
Before Pardeep Narwal broke the record for the most raid points in a single game it was held by Bengaluru Bulls captain Rohit Kumar who single-handedly took apart U.P. Yoddha’s challenge in his side’s penultimate game. The raider scored 30 raid points and also helped effect 2 tackles which brought his match tally to 32. Rohit has been known to be a team player who also has the ability to back up the defence, which is an added advantage.
4. Pardeep Narwal (Raider, Centre) - Patna Pirates
The Patna Pirates captain has been the side’s most prolific raider for three consecutive seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down. In Season 5, he broke record after record by scoring the most points in a match, by scoring the most Super 10s in a season, by picking up maximum points in a single VIVO Pro kabaddi season and by scoring most raid points in a VIVO Pro Kabaddi final. Not to mention his record super raid that took out six opposition players. The raider was the MVP for the second consecutive season. That the next raider in the list of the season’s top raiders is 150 points behind Narwal shows to what extent he has influenced the season for his side.
5. Ajay Thakur (Raider, Right In) - Tamil Thalaivas
Even though Tamil Thalaivas had a dismal campaign where they finished at the bottom of Zone B, their fans found many moments to cheer thanks mainly to their captain Ajay Thakur. Thakur became known in the season to fight till the end and effect comebacks when no one expected them. He was the season’s third most successful raider with 213 points from 22 games and led from the front in almost every game for the Thalaivas.
6. Surjeet Singh (Defender, Right Cover) - Bengal Warriors
Bengal Warriors would consider themselves unlucky to have missed out on a final appearance in spite of finishing at the top of Zone B. Their captain Surjeet Singh was especially effective as he had the ability to stay on the mat till the end in order to delay or even avert an All-Out for his team. The cover defender scored 76 points from 24 games and is tied with Surender Nada for the most High 5s in the season (9). Known to have the most effective short block in the game, Singh was the most important brick of Bengal’s defensive wall.
7. Abozar Mighani (Defender, Right Corner) - Gujarat Fortunegiants
Gujarat Fortunegiants had arguably the best corner combination. One of the vital pegs in their side was right corner Abozar Mighani. The defender’s diving ankle and thigh holds were virtually impossible to escape from which led to raiders steering clear of him when they came in to raid. His had the ability to wait patiently for a raider to come in too deep while attempting a bonus and then strike at the right time giving the raider no time to escape. One can only imagine what a corner combination of him and Nada could achieve.