Gujarat Giants made wholescale changes to their squad for vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 9 right from their players to the coach. They looked like a strong side and were in the hunt for a playoff spot for a major part of the season before falling away.
Chandran Ranjit was appointed as the captain of the Giants but his overall performance seemed to be impacted with his leadership role and an injury. Renowned coach and multiple-time vivo PKL winner with Patna Pirates, Ram Mehar Singh used all his experience to boost the morale of their players but the team couldn’t quite cash in on their potential as the Giants didn’t live up to the expectations of their fans with the team finishing in the bottom half of the points table.
After a thrilling tie against Tamil Thalaivas to start their campaign, the Giants picked up three wins and suffered just as many losses in the Bengaluru leg. Soon after, they lost a few close encounters in Pune and secured just two wins in the second leg.
The Giants then suffered a huge setback as their top players like Rakesh and Chandran Ranjit were out injured for some games. As a result, the team management changed tactics and the playing combination as South Korean raider Dong Geon Lee became the stand-in captain for the side. They lost four consecutive matches in the final leg but ended their season on a high with four wins and a draw in the last five encounters of the Hyderabad leg.
One positive from their season was Parteek Dahiya, who made his mark on kabaddi’s mega stage in some style. The all-rounder was a reliable choice in attack for the Giants and became the top-scorer for the team with 183 points. Rakesh was leading the charge for the franchise in the initial stage of the tournament and ended up earning 131 raid points before he got injured.
Seasoned campaigner Chandran Ranjit, meanwhile, managed 95 raid points while also donning the captaincy role. Mahendra Rajput was seen as a substitute quite often but still managed to make his mark with 54 raid points. Sonu and Dong Geon Lee also added value to Gujarat Giants and chipped in with 41 and 37 raid points respectively. The Giants had the best raid percentage (44.92 %) in the tournament.
On the defensive front, the Giants could have done better to keep opposition raiders quiet. The trio of Rinku Narwal, Arkam Shaikh and Sourav Gulia led the defensive chart for the side having amassed 38, 37 and 35 tackle points respectively. Shankar Gadai also contributed 21 tackle points and looks like one for the future.
Compared to their previous edition results, vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 9 was a campaign to forget for the Giants. Injuries to players and an unsettled starting seven led to below-par displays by their lofty standards as they eventually finished in eighth position in the standings.