Gujarat Giants have always been a team that prided themselves on their defence. The Cover duo of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal has been second to none and their strong combination has seen the team reach the final twice in the three seasons they have played so far.
However, in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 8, the team will be without the services of their raiding stars Sachin Tanwar and Rohit Gulia. Coach Manpreet Singh continued the trend of banking on young talent in the auction. The team fell short of a finals spot for the first time in their history in Season 7, prompting some tough choices from Manpreet.
But Gujarat Giants have also gone in for some well-established names to bolster their defence further, leaving their Season 8 squad looking very interesting.
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Trusted Defensive Core Retained
The duo of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhaiswal has been instrumental in Gujarat Giants’ success in past seasons and it came as no surprise that the team decided to retain them before the auction.
Sunil’s brother Sumit, who made his vivo Pro Kabaddi debut last season was also retained by the team as a Left Corner. Right Corner Ankit was the final retention in terms of defenders, ensuring Gujarat Giants had all their defensive positions filled before the auction began.
Harmanjit Singh, the sole raider to be retained by the side, played just 4 matches for them in Season 7 and scored 5 points. He will be hoping to get more chances as their team will be seen fielding a younger-looking attack this season.
Experienced Names Add Options in Defence
Even after retaining players in every defensive position, Gujarat Giants went big on some established names in defence. Ravinder Pahal was the biggest among these and the team spent 74 Lakh to buy the former Dabang Delhi K.C. Right Corner. This made Pahal the team’s most expensive purchase at the auction.
Coach Manpreet also showed faith in Left Corner Girish Maruti Ernak, who didn’t have the best season with Puneri Paltan in Season 7, scoring 34 tackle points from 17 matches. Though Ernak comes with 262 tackle points to his name in the league so far, Gujarat Giants managed to bag his services for just his base price of 20 Lakh, making it a bargain proposition.
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Both the team’s overseas picks were also defenders, in Hadi Oshtorak and Soleiman Pahlevani, who will be seen in his maiden Pro Kabaddi season. This makes the options in defence plentiful and this goes to show the importance Manpreet places on a good defensive set-up with multiple lines of defence waiting on the bench.
Big Responsibility on Young Raiders
Since Gujarat Giants have gone for such a defence-heavy setup, the responsibility on the shoulders of their young raiders has gone up even more. Sonu, who displayed his raiding prowess by scoring 76 points in Season 7 including a 17-point effort in a single match, makes a comeback to the team. Gujarat Giants used their Final Bid Match (FBM) card to get the raider back in their fold.
They also got Mahendra Ganesh Rajput back in the team after the tall raider missed out in Season 7. Rajput’s best vivo Pro Kabaddi season came while playing for Gujarat Giants in Season 5 and he will be hoping to replicate more of the same when he takes the mat for them this season.
Ajay Kumar is the other known name in raiding. After bagging the Emerging Player of the Season award in Season 4, he was seen supporting Rohit Kumar in raiding for Bengaluru Bulls. Ajay also missed out on playing Season 7 so he will be looking forward to a fresh start.
Coach Manpreet Singh has gone in for several relatively unknown Category C raiders in this year’s auction. But he has shown his ability to sport and hone talent in the past. If he continues in the same vein in Season 8, fans could well see some more strong talents emerging from their ranks.
vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 8 starts 22 December, 2021. Catch all the LIVE action on the Star Sports Network and on Disney+Hotstar and follow Pro Kabaddi on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for all the latest updates!