Through seven seasons of the vivo Pro Kabaddi league, a host of the world's finest kabaddi players have left their ever-lasting impact on the sport. But only a handful can compare their impact to Patna Pirates' superstar and raiding phenomenon Pardeep Narwal.
Known for his proficiency of executing the ‘Dubki’, Pardeep, who is vivo Pro Kabaddi's all-time leading point scorer as well the leader in total raid points, led Patna Pirates to a hat-trick of titles in his first three years with the team. He has also enjoyed a glittering career with the Indian kabaddi team, winning the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016 and has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest kabaddi players of not only his generation, but of all-time.
Pardeep Narwal's move to Patna Pirates
While Pardeep is synonymous with the green and gold of Patna Pirates, the kabaddi player actually made his debut in the vivo Pro Kabaddi league with Bengaluru Bulls in Season 2. He featured sporadically for a star-studded side that boasted the likes of Manjeet Chhillar, Ajay Thakur, Joginder Singh Narwal, Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Deepak Kumar Dahiya, scoring only nine points for the team that went all the way to the final.
It was his move to Patna Pirates in Season 3 that truly helped him showcase his talent and blossom into the superstar raider he is today. Paired with Rohit Kumar, the duo wreaked havoc throughout the season, as they led a young Patna Pirates team to their maiden vivo Pro Kabaddi title, seeing off defending champions U Mumba in the final. He finished the season as the league’s leading point scorer with 121 raid points but missed out on the ‘Best Raider’ award to Rishank Devadiga and the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award to teammate Rohit Kumar.
With Rohit Kumar moving to Bengaluru Bulls in Season 4, the onus fell on Pardeep Narwal to lead the defending champion's raiding unit and the youngster was quick to rise to the challenge. He delivered consistently throughout the season, finishing with 131 raid points, second only to Rahul Chaudhari’s tally of 146. While Pardeep Narwal was outstanding throughout the season, he saved his best for the last. In the final against the Jaipur Pink Panthers, he scored a match-high 16 raid points leading Patna Pirates to a 37-29 victory and their second-straight vivo Pro Kabaddi title. For his magnificent season, he was named the league's Most Valuable Player, and in doing so, became the youngest player to win the award.
Season 5 will forever be remembered as the year of Pardeep Narwal, as the raider piled up astonishing numbers, broke record after record, delivered jaw-dropping performances every match and led Patna Pirates to an unprecedented third-straight vivo Pro Kabaddi title. He shattered the previous record for most points in a season, scoring 369 points, a mammoth 150 more than second-placed Rohit Kumar. In the Season 5 Playoffs, Pardeep Narwal delivered sensational performances one after the other, with none standing out more than his 34-point effort against Haryana Steelers in Eliminator 2.
Against Bengal Warriors in Qualifier 2, Pardeep Narwal yet again proved to be unstoppable, scoring 23 points and leading his side to a 47-44 victory. In the final against Gujarat Fortunegiants, Pardeep Narwal one-upped himself, scoring 19 raid points, breaking his own record for most points in a vivo Pro Kabaddi final that he set in Season 4, helping Patna Pirates retain their title.
The Pardeep Narwal records
"There is pressure on me as the main raider of the side," he admitted in an interview with ProKabaddi.com. "If a raider makes mistakes, then the defence is likely to follow suit so we have to perform consistently."
But time after time, he has risen above this pressure and delivered.
Since joining Patna Pirates in Season 3, Pardeep Narwal has finished as the league's highest or second-highest raid point scorer in every campaign, one of only two players, alongside Rahul Chaudhari, to achieve this feat more than twice.
In Season 5, he set the record for most points in a single vivo Pro Kabaddi campaign, scoring 369 points in just 26 matches. For his efforts, he was unanimously awarded the Most Valuable Player and the Best Raider, becoming the first player to win both awards in the same season and also the first player to be crowned MVP twice.
In Season 7, the Patna Pirates ace became the first player in vivo Pro Kabaddi history to record two campaigns of over 300 raid points. He also became the first man to score 1,000 raid points in the vivo Pro Kabaddi league and is currently over 200 raid points clear of the next highest scorer.
He also holds the record for most Super 10s and is the only man with over 50 Super Raids in vivo Pro Kabaddi.
An integral part of the Indian national kabaddi team, Pardeep Narwal has bagged three gold medals in the four tournaments he has represented the nation in.
Pardeep Narwal’s best raids
With over 50 Super Raids to his name, Pardeep Narwal has often dealt a lot of damage to opposition defences on the mat.
However, the defining raid of his career came against Haryana Steelers in Eliminator 2 of the Season 5 Playoffs. Facing a defence of six, Pardeep faked a couple of defenders with a Dubki, managed to avoid getting tackled by the Corners, before spinning his way to the midline, cleaning up the entire team in one raid and earning his side eight points – a vivo Pro Kabaddi record for most points in a single raid - in the process. It was a historic Super Raid.
WATCH | Pardeep Narwal's 8 point raid
As the old idiom goes, lightening may not strike twice, but Pardeep Narwal did. Against eventual champions Bengal Warriors in Season 7, the raider pulled off another jaw-dropping raid that took care of all but one of the seven defenders in the opposition half. After successfully avoiding an Ankle Hold from the Right Corner, Pardeep Narwal was met by three defenders, who managed to wrestle him down to the mat. The Left Cover and the Left Corner joined in to aid their teammates pin Pardeep Narwal down, but through the slightest opening, the Patna Pirates ace slithered his right foot across the midline to earn his side a mammoth six points in what was the best raid in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 7.
A serial winner, a decorated athlete and one of greatest players of all time, Pardeep Narwal has done it all in the past four years and at just 23, fans can expect a lot more from one of the finest athletes the nation has ever produced.