With Season 9 of vivo Pro Kabaddi just around the corner, the excitement is palpable among fans and players alike as the 12 franchises prepare for battle. Since the teams are now upping the ante in training with the new season fast approaching, they will be hoping that their key players hit the ground running in the upcoming campaign. A lot of the onus will be on the raiders in each team since they are the ones who do the bulk of the scoring for their respective franchises.
Bearing that in mind, let us have a look at the top raiders who are likely to be the game-changers for their respective teams.
Pawan Sehrawat (Tamil Thalaivas)
Pawan Sehrawat has been one of the standout players in vivo Pro Kabaddi for the last three seasons. He is the most expensive player in vivo PKL history after Tamil Thalaivas bought him for ₹2.26 crores and is third in the all-time leaderboard for raid points (986). The Hi-Flyer was the best raider for Bengaluru Bulls last season and topped the overall raid points leaderboard with 304 points in 24 matches. A confident player who is capable of seamlessly executing successful raids, Sehrawat is the record holder for most raid points in a match having scored 39 raid points in a match against Haryana Steelers in Season 7. A former vivo Pro Kabaddi champion with Bengaluru Bulls in Season 6, Sehrawat will be hoping to lead Tamil Thalaivas to their maiden league title in the upcoming campaign.
Arjun Deshwal (Jaipur Pink Panthers)
Arjun Deshwal was a surprise package in the last campaign and emerged as one of the best raiders in the competition with Jaipur Pink Panthers. He was mighty impressive for the Panthers with 267 raid points and was second on the overall leaderboard for most raid points in Season 8. One of the best when it came to do-or-die raids, Deshwal’s 44 do-or-die raid points also put him second on the leaderboard for such raids last season. He made raiding look easy with 16 Super 10s and 6 Super Raids. Another aspect of his game that stood out last season was his high not-out percentage of 82.42%, which he’ll be eager to replicate in the upcoming campaign. His solid displays for Jaipur Pink Panthers meant that he was retained by the franchise as he’s now established himself as the team’s go-to raider ahead of the new season.
Maninder Singh (Bengal Warriors)
Maninder Singh has been one of the most consistent and dominant raiders in the league over the years. He has been with Bengal Warriors from Season 5 and his performances on the mat have consistently been of the highest quality. In the previous edition, Maninder mustered 262 raid points and had an average of almost 12 raid points (11.91 points) per game. His talismanic displays for the Warriors helped them win the league in Season 7. Second only to Pardeep Narwal on the all-time leaderboard for most raid points (993), Maninder will be eager to get his hands on the vivo Pro Kabaddi title again heading into the new season.
Naveen Kumar (Dabang Delhi K.C.)
Naveen started his vivo Pro Kabaddi journey in Season 6 with Dabang Delhi K.C. and there has been no looking back for him ever since. Having burst onto the vivo Pro Kabaddi circuit in Season 6 when he scored 172 raid points for Dabang Delhi K.C., Naveen took his game to another level in the next campaign by finishing with 301 raid points as the franchise from the national capital fell narrowly short of title glory after losing to Bengal Warriors in the final. Despite being sidelined due to injury for some games in the last campaign, Naveen still managed to score 207 raid points in just 17 matches to lead Dabang Delhi K.C. to their maiden title. Known for his ability to pull off great escapes from the defenders’ clutches, Naveen had a not-out percentage of 84.91% last season and needless to say, he’ll be needed to perform similarly in the upcoming campaign if Dabang Delhi K.C are to successfully defend their title.
Pardeep Narwal (U.P. Yoddhas)
Pardeep Narwal isn’t a name that needs much introduction but the three-time vivo Pro Kabaddi champion will be eager to set things right in the new season after an underwhelming campaign compared to his high standards last time around. Despite not having the best of seasons, Pardeep still managed to score 188 raid points besides also registering 9 Super 10s and 12 Super Raids. On top of the all-time leaderboard for most raid points (1348), Super Raids (64) and Super 10s (68), Pardeep will be hoping to regain the form that made him an unstoppable force in the colours of Patna Pirates during their three successive title triumphs. If he manages to do so, there’s no doubting the fact that U.P. Yoddhas will become one of the top contenders in Season 9 of vivo Pro Kabaddi.