The likes of Ajay Thakur, Anup Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Kashiling Adake, and Rahul Chaudhari join the battlefield on Day 1 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi.

The much-awaited Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi gets underway with the battle of the south where Telugu Titans take on debutants Tamil Thalaivas, post which Maharashtra rivals U Mumba and Puneri Paltan step onto the mat for the second game of the evening at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.

While the nation is enveloped in excitement, anticipating the return of the popular league on their television screens and in the arenas, the opening day has a series of major attractions in store for all. One being the battle of the best raiders! Ajay Thakur, Anup Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Kashiling Adake, and Rahul Chaudhari all are in action on Friday evening and will look to add to their reputations. Let’s take a look at why these five champion kabaddi players are such big stars and enjoy great popularity in the league.  

Ajay Thakur (Tamil Thalaivas)

Tamil Thalaivas captain Ajay Thakur comes into Season 5 in glistening form after being the leading raid point scorer of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup with 64 raid points at a staggering strike rate of 91.42. The most experienced raider in the squad, he is fourth in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi raid points list with 316 points, including 237 successful raids. A meticulous raider, his performance in pressure situations is second to none as is evident by his 92 points in do-or-die raids - the highest in the league. His destructive impact can also be gauged by his tally of 15 Super Raids which is the second highest in VIVO Pro Kabaddi.

Anup Kumar (U Mumba)

A lynchpin for U Mumba since the league’s inception, Captain Cool Anup Kumar will again lead the Mumbai outfit in his attempt to win the VIVO Pro Kabaddi trophy for a second time. The talismanic star raider is third on the list behind teammate Kashiling Adake in the raid points list. He has an amazing 377 raid points to go with 307 successful raids and an average of 6.61. The ‘Most Valuable Player’ of Season 1 has 13 Super Raids and 11 Super 10s to his name across four seasons. He is also only behind Adake in bonus points with 77. The deathly combination of Anup and Adake will prove to be lethal for their opponents.

Deepak Hooda (Puneri Paltan)

Puneri Paltan captain and all-rounder Deepak Hooda was retained by the Pune outfit in view of his explosive speed, agility and alertness. He enjoyed a fantastic Season 4 where he crossed the 100 raid points landmark with 126 raid points at a strike rate of 45.48. He has a total of 342 raid points against his name across all seasons with 296 successful raids. Hooda has been the orchestrator for many Puneri Paltan wins over the last two seasons, and he will hope to replicate his performance this season as well. 

Kashiling Adake (U Mumba)

The first raider to surpass 100 raid points in consecutive seasons of VIVO Pro Kabaddi (Season 1 and 2), Kashiling Adake was also adjudged the ‘Best Raider’ of Season 2. He is only second to Rahul Chaudhari in the raid points list with 380, and has an impressive 293 successful raids. The raider has mastered the art of securing bonus points and tops the list with an amazing 97 bonus points, the most in the league’s history. To top it off, he also leads the Super Raids tally with 16, and has an average of 7.31 raid points. 

Rahul Chaudhari (Telugu Titans)

Telugu Titans captain Rahul Chaudhari is the leading raid point scorer of VIVO Pro Kabaddi with a total of 482 raid points with 385 successful raids and his dominance is proven with the mammoth 102-raid point difference he has with the next player in the list. The Raid Machine was adjudged the ‘Best Raider’ in Seasons 1 and 4 of the league. His average raid points of 8.46 are the best by any player in the league's history and he is also the only player to have scored 500 plus points (overall 517). The poster boy of Indian kabaddi also has a whopping 24 Super 10s to his name, the most by any player in the league, and that is testament to his great prowess.

The fantastic five take their place in the spotlight on Day 1 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi at Hyderabad. Don’t miss the action LIVE on the Star Sports network and hotstar, 8 PM IST onwards.