Puneri Paltan has built a balanced, complete squad on paper for Season 8 of Pro Kabaddi with no player being bought at over Rs. 61lakhs, which is likely to lend a balance to the player dynamics which often translates into better performance on the mat.
Coached by Kabaddi legend and Former Team India Captain, Anup Kumar, this squad has all the necessary elements to make it to the playoffs in this edition of Pro Kabaddi. The lethal corner defenders are the bastion of the Puneri Paltan defense. With Baldev Singh, PKL7’s most valuable defender manning the right corner and his compatriot from Himachal Pradesh Vishal Bharadwaj in the left corner, Puneri Paltan have arguably the best corner combination this season. With both players at 60 lakhs, there is an economic balance that might lend itself beautifully to create a working Kabaddi defense. In the auctions, strangely, the Paltans continued to secure more right corners in Sombir (plays for Services), Hadi Tajik, and E Subash. The right corner is possibly the most important defense position given the series of brilliant right raiders in Pawan Sehrawat, Naveen Kumar, and Arjun Deshwal but let’s remember you can only play one right corner in a match so we’re unsure on what the thought process was there!
Overall Squad Rating – 7.5 / 10
In Jadhav Balasaheb (left cover) and Sanket Savant (right cover), Puneri Paltan have retained two young Maharashtrian covers, who are tried and tested. With few cover defenders available in the auction, these were valuable retentions. They also secured Abhinesh Natarajan who plays on the right cover for SAI. However, any injury to the covers might prove costly with the lack of depth in quality.
Pune also possesses a balanced raid unit this season. They used the Final Bid Match (FBM) card on Nitin Tomar at 61 Lakhs, who as a left raider, scores on an average 6-7 points per game and is a Bonus point-scoring expert. In Pankaj Mohite, they have a brilliant young right raider who can win matches single-handedly. He is skillful and innovative and can prove to be a match-winner. They also secured the showman Rahul Chaudhary at Rs. 40 Lakhs, who is looking to renew his career and give his reputation a lift. Pune also lapped up Mohit Goyat, the raid machine from the K7s Kabaddi feeder series in the NYP draft. Mohit, a right raider, who scored a massive 179 points in 13 matches is a team player with the makings of a future leader. In Pawan Kadiyan, they have another capable raider who could prove to be a match-winner on his day as his brilliant raiding in Gotegaon showed vs a strong Northern Railways unit.
Coach Anup Kumar needs to prove his mettle. The auctions are done and with the players and backups for every position bought, the ball is now in Anup’s court to make this squad work. Can this be the year that Puneri Paltan finally taste a bit of success? Only time will tell…