The teams in the PKL look for players who can help them to keep moving in the right direction for a longer period of time. A player’s association with a franchise helps to grow a prolonged bond between the two. If the team shows complete faith in a player by retaining them or bringing them back from the Player Auction, it becomes easy for the team management and the player to take things forward and have an eventful season.
Continuity of personnel in a team lays the foundation for a successful franchise in any sport and it’s no different with Pro Kabaddi. The longer a player is associated with a team, the more familiar he grows with his surroundings, making it easier for them to produce their best once they step onto the mat in a settled environment. The fact that a team continues to showcase their faith in a player by continually retaining them year after year only further boosts the confidence of a player in their ability.
Here we take a look at some of the top players who have continued to play for the same franchise for an extended duration and have now become the face of their teams over the years.
Naveen Kumar, also fondly called the Naveen Express, is a well-known name in the kabaddi circuit and has become the face of Dabang Delhi K.C. He was the find of Pro Kabaddi Season 6 after being picked by Dabang Delhi K.C. from the NYP category. The prolific raider started off his PKL journey in style, amassing 172 raid points in his first-ever PKL season. He has been the go-to raider in the raiding department for his side ever since and has scored 934 raid points at an average of 10.99 raid points per match so far. Naveen Kumar is only the second player after Pardeep Narwal to have won two Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in the PKL and won both with Dabang Delhi K.C.. Naveen will be seen donning the Dabang Delhi K.C. jersey once again in Season 10.
Surender Gill made a decent start to his PKL career in Season 7 after being picked by U.P. Yoddhas. He secured 71 raid points and registered two Super Raids in 18 matches in that campaign. He was also among the top three raiders for the Yoddhas in that season. The swift raider then brought his A-game to the mat the following campaign and became the leading raid points scorer for his side with 189 raid points in which he had an average of 8.22 raid points in a match. He continued his fabulous form in Season 9 and amassed 140 raid points before picking up an injury. GIll will be one of the Yoddhas’ go-to men in Season 10 once again and will be one of the key contributors for the Yoddhas’ success.
Saurabh Nandal was among the top three defenders of Pro Kabaddi Season 9. The Bulls tackler has always been a reliable man in defence and scored 56 tackle points in his first PKL campaign in Season 7. Saurabh has got all the defensive tricks up his sleeve and has amassed 197 tackle points in his PKL career. He has also got an impressive average of 2.77 tackle points per match and provides defensive reliability as well as solidity, which was one of the main reasons behind Bengaluru Bulls retaining him ahead of Season 10.
Sagar’s stature as a defender has continued to grow after arriving on Pro Kabaddi’s big stage in Season 7. He had a bit of a subdued start to his Pro Kabaddi career as he managed to score 22 tackle points. However, the Thalaivas defender showed great promise in Season 8 and went on to play in all the team’s matches that season. He made good use of the opportunity and mustered 82 tackle points at an impressive average of 3.73 tackles per match. After Pawan Sehrawat’s exclusion due to injury in Tamil Thalaivas’ first game of Season 9, Sagar was handed the captaincy duty, and led from the front, registering 53 tackle points to his name.
Nitesh Kumar and U.P. Yoddhas began their PKL journey together in 2017 in Season 5 when four new teams, including the Yoddhas were introduced in the league. Nitesh made a steady start to his PKL career and contributed with 47 tackle points in his debut campaign with the Yoddhas. He followed it up with a whopping 100 tackle points in Season 6, which is still the most tackle points scored by a defender in a season. The right corner has always been a reliable man in defence for the Yoddhas and scored 313 tackle points in his five seasons with the only PKL franchise he’s ever represented.