We saw the franchises looking to get their team combination and balance right in their vivo Pro Kabaddi campaign. Developing an understanding of your teammates was crucial for the success of the teams. One such position is of the cover defender who strengthens the defensive unit to initiate a chain tackle or to perform a dash on the raiders. A cover defender also helps in safeguarding the raider of their side when the opposition raider gets a touch on them.
Let’s have a look at some of the best cover pairs in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 9.
Jaideep Dahiya and Mohit Nandal (Haryana Steelers)
One of the most impressive pairings for the Steelers was of their covers Jaideep Dahiya and Mohit Nandal. These defenders knew each other’s game on the mat, making them a pair for opposition raiders to watch out for. Dahiya showed his power game in the defence with 54 tackle points. He showed his consistency for the Steelers in the defence and became the third best cover defender (for players who have featured in more than 20 matches in Season 9) with an average of 2.57 points in a match. Nandal, playing his second vivo PKL season raised his game and earned 44 tackle points which also includes a High 5 (seven tackle points) against U Mumba in which he proved to be a match-winner for the Steelers.
Sunil Kumar and Abhishek KS (Jaipur Pink Panthers)
Sunil led the Panthers from the front with 64 tackle points. He was the only cover defender to feature in the list of top five defenders in the league. He was the best cover defender in the business and had a tackle success rate of 58%. The Panthers’ captain had a fruitful season not just in the lead role for the team but also as a cover as he produced the second most High 5s (4) amongst all the covers. Abhishek KS, the debutant justified his selection in the team and came up with four points in his first vivo PKL match and 25 tackle points in the tournament which also includes a crucial High 5 which he scored against Haryana Steelers. The captain (6 points) and the youngster (3 points) played their part in the final for the Panthers.
Vishal and Ravi Kumar (Dabang Delhi K.C.)
Vishal performed to his potential this season and became the team’s main man as far as tackling opposition raiders is concerned. It was his best ever vivo PKL season as he earned 58 tackle points. With a total of 150 tackles he had an impressive average of 2.64 tackles a game. Ravi Kumar is a crucial defender who has been among the known cover defenders over the years, he has scored 214 tackle points overall. The right cover didn’t have the best of seasons by his standards but managed to assist Vishal with 22 tackle points that consisted of a Super Tackle for Delhi in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 9. This pair added crucial points and was one of the reasons that helped the Season 8 champions to make it to the playoffs.
Arkam Shaikh and Sourav Gulia (Gujarat Giants)
After warming the bench for U.P. Yoddhas in Season 6 and Season 7, when Arkam Shaikh was bought by Gujarat Giants he made the most of the opportunity for his side. He enjoyed good success as a cover, having notched up 37 tackle points. He was the only player in the entire Giants lineup who went on to feature in all 22 matches which shows his importance in the defensive unit. He was among the few players who went on to play Shaikh made for a solid defensive pairing with Sourav Gulia who earned 35 tackle points for Gujarat Giants. He stood out in Match 46 against Telugu Titans in which he was the joint highest scorer (6 points) with Rakesh and Parteek Dahiya which showed his defensive prowess and match-winning ability.
Abishek and Mohit (Tamil Thalaivas)
The Thalaivas’ covers were clinical in the defence throughout the season and the pairing of M. Abishek and Mohit lived up to the expectations. They complimented Tamil Thalaivas’ corners exceptionally well. Abishek made a name for himself in a lineup that consisted of defenders like Sagar and Sahil Gulia. He shone with a High 5 for the Thalaivas in the presence of Sagar and Gulia and kept the in-form Puneri Paltan’s raiders quiet in Match 69. The right cover scored 40 tackle points for the Thalaivas. Mohit notched up 32 tackle points in this edition of vivo Pro Kabaddi. He got his first High 5 in Season 9 and it turned out to be crucial for the Tamil Thalaivas as it helped them to share the spoils after a thrilling tie.