Stellar performance in breakout season is proven as an advantage for debutants to establish themselves as prominent PKL stars. Many players make their Pro Kabaddi debut every season but only a few of them successfully grab this early golden opportunity.
Kabaddi's reach and popularity are evolving day by day. Not just PKL but fans are also checking out all other platforms to enjoy this game. State and club level tournaments like Senior nationals, All India Kabaddi Championship and K7 are receiving extensive fame. Therefore some players have already become familiar faces among the Pro Kabaddi circuit even before their debut.
Here, we take a look at five debutants to watch out for in the upcoming edition of PKL.
5. K Rathan (Gujarat Fortunegiants)
A rising star raider, K Rathan, hails from Koothi city of the state. Rathan has played for Bank of Baroda in club level kabaddi tournaments. Recently he represented Karnataka in the 68th Senior National Kabaddi Championship where he helped his state to reach the quarter-finals.
Keeping his current form in mind, Rathan should not face any difficulties in making it to the starting 7. The Fortunegiants will be a suitable place for Rathan as the franchise has previously accommodated many Karnataka-based players. The list includes the names of Sachin Vittala, K Prapanjan and former captain Sukesh Hegde.
4. Mohit Goyat (Puneri Paltan)
Mohit Goyat is a budding raider from Haryana's Bhaini School. His claim to fame came in 47th Junior National Championship where he represented Haryana. Then he went on to represent his club Bhaini School in the K7 Kabaddi tournament.
Mohit had an excellent run in K7 where he scored whopping 228 raid points in just 16 appearances. He was one of four New Young Players (NYP) category players who were successfully sold on the first day of auctions. Puneri Paltan is stacked with high-profile raiding names but Mohit too stands as a hot contestant for a place in the first seven.
3. Rajesh Gurjar (Haryana Steelers)
The 22-year-old youngster from Rajasthan is our only defender on this list. The left-corner defender uses the 'Ankle Hold' technique as his special signature move. Rajesh had the second most tackle points in the 68th Senior Nationals where Rajasthan won the bronze medal.
Rajesh continued the same form in Rajasthan State Championship representing Jaipur. He played a pivotal role in Jaipur's championship-winning triumph scoring the most tackle points, 19 in just 2 games. Rajesh Gurjar will challenge the veterans Surender Nada and Shrikant Tewthia to gain the starter status in Haryana's corner department.
2. Mohammadreza Shadloui (Patna Pirates)
Meraj Sheykh's unavailability saddened his fans but another Iranian entertaining all-rounder is ready to fill his boots. Shadloui received the highest bid of 31 lakhs among all foreigners in the auctions.
Mohammadreza Shadloui's first impression came in the 2018 Dubai Kabaddi Masters where Iran bagged the silver medal. Then he went on to be a part of the Iranian side which won the first edition of the Junior Kabaddi Championship in 2019. The glittering raids and robust defense on the left corner describe his calibre on the mat. Patna will be expecting more defensive work from him as the roster lacks dependable names in this department.
1. Meetu Sharma (Haryana Steelers)
And our first pick is none other than raiding sensation Meetu Sharma. Meetu's name is on everyone's lips and his Pro Kabaddi debut will be the ebullient one. Although he did not name himself for the auctions and joined his home side Haryana Steelers later on as NYP.
Meetu is considered as a promising player from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) whom he represented in junior nationals. He has been conferred with the Best raider award in the last two Junior National Championships. Meetu had a great outing in the 38th All India Kabaddi Championship in Goregaon representing ONGC as they bagged the title. He had then finished as the 2nd best raider of the tournament with 77 raid points, just 4 points behind Naveen Goyat.
Meetu will be accompanied by other young Indian raiders at Haryana Steelers like Rohit Gulia, Vikash Kandola and Vinay Tewatia.
Special mention- Hyunsu Park (Telugu Titans), Galla Raju (Telugu Titans), Akash Shinde (Puneri Paltan), Aslam Inamdar (Puneri Paltan), Govind Gurjar (Puneri Paltan), Akash Pikalmunde (Bengal Warriors), Manoj Gowda (Bengal Warriors), Mayur Kadam (Bengaluru Bulls), Ashu Malik (Dabang Delhi)