Top Best Defenders in Pro Kabaddi League
If you ask most casual Kabaddi fans who their favourite player is, chances are, they will name some big-shot raider. However, if you ask the same question to a seasoned Kabaddi enthusiast, they will definitely have one or two defenders among their top 5.
The one-versus-many aspect of Kabaddi attacks can often fool a person into thinking that defenders have it easy, but an ironclad defense can win a team as many games as a powerful offense, and thus, defense is an oft-forgotten — or at least, ignored — a cornerstone of the sport.
Falling in the latter category, we understand the impact of the best defenders in the Pro Kabaddi League, and thus, wanted to celebrate them with our own version of a shoutout. Here are the five best defenders in Kabaddi.
Manjeet is undoubtedly the best all-rounder in all of PKL history, and definitely the best left cover. In recent times, he has been primarily serving as a defender, historically being the most successful player in the department.
Playing for Bengaluru Bulls in Season 1, he amassed 51 tackle points in 16 games. He was dubbed the first season’s ‘Best Defender.’ Manjeet racked up another 40 in 16 games for the Bulls in Season 2, and he was named the season’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ for his all-around performance. Manjeet went on to win the award for ‘Best Defender’ in Season 3 after scoring 61 in 15 matches for Puneri Paltan.
Due to injury, Manjeet missed a few matches while playing for the same franchise during Season 4. Nevertheless, he still piled up 44 from 12 games that season. In Season 5, he made a smaller impact. Playing for Jaipur Pink Panthers in Season 5, he only accumulated 47 tackle points from 15 games.
In Season 6 of the Pro Kabaddi League, he played for the Tamil Thalaivas. He was the lead in defense for his team and earned a total of 59 tackle points. Season 7, on the other hand, turned out to be quite dull for Manjeet since he only managed 37 tackle points.
Another prolific defender, Surender Nada is a player whose numbers speak for themselves. He was successful in accumulating 51 tackle points from 15 games in the inaugural season of the PKL, when he played for U Mumba, getting the team to the final, but falling short of the crown. In Season 2, he attained a relatively lower 41 tackle points in the span of a mere 14 games, but his team won the championship.
Nada’s third season was far from a success as he only managed 13 tackle points over 7 games. The following year, Nada transferred to Bengaluru Bulls and racked up 33 tackle points over 13 matches. The season after, he astonished everyone by amassing an astounding 83 tackle points from his tally of 21 fixtures.
Sadly, Season 6 and 7 have seen Surender fall down the ranks, with poor performances in the first, and an injury ruling him out during the second.
Sandeep Narwal, a thigh and back hold specialist, is not only one of the most successful defenders in the PKL, but is one of the premier all-round players with excellent defensive and offensive ability. As far as defense goes, he started modestly with 27 tackle points from 14 games in Season 1 of the PKL.
Playing for Patna, Sandeep successfully acquired 37 tackle points in 16 games in Season 2. Season 3 saw him get the second-highest number of tackle points in the league, with 14 games bringing him 55 and getting his team the ultimate prize.
Moving to Telugu Titans in Season 4, he accumulated 42 points from 16 games. Sandeep transferred to Puneri Paltan in Season 5, where he amassed 52 tackle points in 21 games and helped the team win the league for a third consecutive time. He played defense for Puneri Paltan in PKL Season 6, scoring 41 tackle points from 18 matches, his seventh season in the league saw him bag 56 points from 24 matches.
Ravinder Pahal, with his thigh holds, back holds, and blocks, is a force to be reckoned with for any attacker. Unlike the others on this list, he seems to be improving with every season. In the very first season of the PKL, he collected 29 tackle points from 9 matches.
The following year, Ravinder was named ‘Best Defender of the Season’ for a robust 60 tackle points in just 14 games, with his unusual ‘Wrist Hold’ helping him get to such heights. In Season 3, he had 26 tackle points from 11 games, and Season 4 saw him play for Puneri Paltan where he racked up 37 tackle points in 14 games in the team’s second title-winning run.
In Season 5 the strongman defender piled up the numbers with 52 from 19, with the next two seasons bringing 59 from 22 and 63 from 23 respectively, with his team Dabang Delhi KC falling just short of the crown.
Fazel, without a shadow of a doubt, ranks highest when it comes to international players in the PKL. He made his debut in Season 2, and his current paycheck is also at the top when compared to other foreign players.
In his freshman season, he only took part in 5 games and brought home 11 points for U Mumba. However, the very next season, he picked up 32 from just 11 matches. This was just a sign of things to come.
The next two seasons saw Fazel nullify attacks at an alarming rate with 52 and 57 points from 16 and 24 games respectively, playing for the Gujarat Fortunegiants. After this, he took his game to a whole other level, racing attackers to ash with 83 and 82 points in his next two seasons, when he was with U Mumba.