The inaugural Champions of Pro Kabaddi, Jaipur Pink Panthers have ticked several boxes and look like a Champion squad on paper as they look to return to winning ways after a few poor campaigns in Pro Kabaddi over the past few seasons.
The Abhishek Bachchan-owned franchise appointed former U Mumba coach, the legendary Sanjeev Baliyan as their head coach for PKL Season 8 and also retained the services of the experienced Amit Hooda on the right corner, all-rounder Nitin Rawal and cover defender Vishal Lather ahead of the auction. The side was busy at the auction tables and was looking to spend big to get back to winning ways after a disappointing campaign in Season 7 that saw the team start strong and then derail towards the business end of the tournament.
Overall Squad Rating – 7/10
The biggest buy of the auction was the in-form man, Arjun Deshwal who wasn’t retained by U Mumba and was bagged for a whopping amount of Rs. 96 lakhs. JPP also bought back the services of their leader in Season 7, Deepak Niwas Hooda, and also left corner Sandeep Dhull for a combined amount of Rs. 1cr and also picked up a few steals like Naveen Bazzad from Haryana for just 22L and the experienced Dharmaraj Cheralathan for just Rs. 25lakhs, who adds plenty of depth to the squad. The men in Pink also added the Iranian combo of Mohammad Amin Nosrati and Amir Hossein Mohammadmaleki, who could be exciting to watch in Season 8.
Pavan TR, Sushil Gulia, Sachin Narwal and Elavarasan also remain with the team as their New Young Players (NYPs) and on paper, the Pink Panthers look like a well-balanced side with a nice blend of youth and experience with most bases covered. One of the issues they have faced over the past few seasons has been clear role definition for their players, including the leadership of Deepak Niwas Hooda and if the management can sort out the man-management of some of their experienced men, this side looks like it could go very deep into the competition in 2021. The last time this team made the playoffs was way back in Season 4 and they’ll be hoping to put the recent disappointments behind them and bounce back in Season 8.