The VIVO Pro Kabaddi stage has consistently been a platform for young kabaddi players to showcase their talents and make a name for themselves in the sport. Every season, new youngsters leave their mark on the mat and Season 6 was no different. We take a look at some of the players that were 21-years-old or younger when VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6 commenced and performed exceedingly well over the course of the campaign.
Given his achievements in the sport, it is hard to believe that Patna Pirates captain Pardeep Narwal was only 21 during VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6. The two-time MVP enjoyed another stunning campaign, finishing the season with 233 raid points with a league-leading 15 Super 10s and six Super Raids. The raider picked up his second Best Raider award on the trot for his efforts this campaign and also became the first player in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history to score 850 raid points. The highlight of Narwal’s season was his staggering 27-point performance against Puneri Paltan in what turned out to be the best individual performance by any player in Season 6.
After an excellent rookie campaign in Season 5, raider Sachin enjoyed another stellar campaign with Gujarat Fortunegiants in Season 6, notching up a team-leading 204 points in 23 appearances. Sachin averaged 8.26 raid points and scored seven Super 10s in Season 6 as he led his team in offence for the second season running. Sachin was also reliable in tricky situations as he scored 28 raid points in Do-Or-Die raids, five more than the team’s second highest scorer in those situations. The 19-year-old showed maturity beyond his years throughout the campaign and consistently delivered big performances for Gujarat Fortunegiants.
After playing sporadically in his debut campaign in Season 5, 20-year-old Vikash Khandola earned a place in Haryana Steelers’ starting lineup as the secondary raider in Season 6 but soon established himself as the team’s lead raider. Khandola finished the campaign 177 points in 22 appearances, averaging a shade over eight points per game for his team. Khandola scored six Super 10s over the course of the season and was his team’s best bet in Do-Or-Die situations scoring 20 raid points. Khandola also managed five Super Raids over the course of the season and also captained the team in the absence of Monu Goyat.
Dabang Delhi K.C. raider Naveen Kumar became the first player to have been born in the 2000s to play in VIVO Pro Kabaddi and the league’s youngest player was magnificent in his maiden campaign. The 18-year-old led Dabang Delhi K.C. in scoring with 177 points in 22 appearances, a tally higher than some seasoned VIVO Pro Kabaddi veterans. The raider was his team’s go-to guy in the raiding department and repaid his team’s trust by finishing the campaign with eight Super 10s and an average of 7.82 raid points per match, ranking among the top 10 in the league in both categories.
After an impressive debut campaign in Season 5, that saw him score 47 tackle points in 19 appearances, 21-year-old Nitesh Kumar created history in Season 6 by becoming the first player in VIVO Pro Kabaddi to score a century of tackle points in a single season. The Right Corner was involved in a gripping three-way race along with Parvesh Bhainswal and Fazel Atrachali for the Best Defender award and while Nitesh trailed the two for most of the campaign, he went into overdrive and scored 42 tackle points in U.P. Yoddha’s final nine matches of the campaign to take home his maiden Best Defender crown. Kumar finished the campaign with eight High 5s, the most by any player in the league, and eight Super Tackles, just one shy of Vishal Bhardwaj’s season high mark of nine.
Telugu Titans handed the mantle of captaincy to, then, 21-year-old stand-out all-rounder Vishal Bhardwaj for Season 6 and the youngster thrived under the responsibility of skippering the side. Bhardwaj notched up 60 tackle points with five High 5s at a brilliant strike rate of 63.15. His average of 3.53 tackle points per game was third only behind Nitesh Kumar and Fazel Atrachali in Season 6 and despite playing only 17 matches, Bhardwaj led the league in Super Tackles with nine. He led the Telugu Titans in tackle points, Super Tackles as well as High 5s, showcasing his immense value to the team’s cause.