PKL 2021: Jaipur Pink Panthers - Preview, Squad, Expected 7, Schedule
Having qualified for the playoffs only twice in seven seasons, can the Jaipur Pink Panthers turn their fortunes around this time?
Whether it's the Indian Premier League (IPL) or Pro Kabaddi League, the pride of being inaugural champions only belongs to the franchise from the heritage land of Rajasthan, and much like the Rajasthan Royals in IPL the Pink Panthers too have failed to live up to the expectations.
The Rajasthan-based franchise established itself as the most glamorous PKL franchise receiving support from not only the local region but also many celebrity faces. The passion of the Bachchan family towards this game is commendable, especially Abhishek Bachchan who is a key patron and promoter of this league.
Jaipur Pink Panthers' previous Pro Kabaddi campaign was pretty average on paper but the actual story was quite different. Jaipur managed to choke in the playoffs qualification scenario even after claiming seven wins and 36 points from the first nine matches. The memories of the previous season will haunt the Panthers for a long time as they were on a winless streak of nine matches at one point.
Straight from the rivals
We have seen many U Mumba greats like Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bapu and Ravi Shetty joining Jaipur campus from direct rivals. Coach Sanjeev Baliyan and his deputy Upendra Kumar are the latest additions to the list. The former Indian captain is ready to guide Jaipur with an ultimate aim to end their three-year playoff qualification drought. Interestingly, Jaipur only qualified for playoffs two times in Pro Kabaddi League history and played finals both times.
Uttar Pradesh's raiding sensation Arjun Deshwal will be mentored by Sanjeev Baliyan once again, who also hails from the same state. Jaipur acquired the services of the 22-year-old youngster at the auction price of 96 lakhs. The sky-high bid from Panthers at the auction table made him the third most expensive player just behind the names of Pardeep Narwal and Siddharth Desai. Jaipur also added two raiders, an in-form Naveen Bazzad and Iranian Amirhossein Maleki who were part of the Haryana Steelers roster last season.
Stability with Solidarity
Jaipur's decision to continue with the corner pair of Sandeep Dhull and Amit Hooda received wide praises from fans as they are quite familiar with these ace defenders in the backline. However, the cover department of the defensive unit lacks a renowned face. Hence we may see veteran defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan switching his position from corner to covers. Cheralathan's presence brings a robust base of experience to the roster.
All-rounders add precious stability to Jaipur's roster. Captain Deepak Niwas Hooda is intimated in Rajasthan Kabaddi as the flagbearer of state at Senior Nationals. The Indian national captain helped Rajasthan to bag a bronze medal leading from the front. The Pro Kabaddi universe is familiar with the unpredictability of thunderbolt Nitin Rawal who can change the game's flow in seconds.
Jaipur Pink Panthers expected Starting7
Arjun Deshwal (Raider)
Deepak Hooda (All-Rounder)
Naveen Bazzad / Nitin Rawal
Dharmaraj Cheralathan (Left Cover)
Pavan TR (Right Cover)
Sandeep Dhull (Left Corner)
Amit Hooda (Right Corner)
Gujarat Giants - 23 December 2021
Haryana Steelers - 25 December 2021
UP Yoddha - 27 December 2021
U Mumba - 30 December 2021
Bengal Warriors - 3 January 2022
Bengaluru Bulls - 6 January 2022
Puneri Paltan - 7 January 2022
Dabang Delhi KC - 10 January 2022
Patna Pirates - 14 January 2022
Tamil Thalaivas - 16 January 2022
Telugu Titans - 19 January 2022
Raiders- Arjun Deshwal, Naveen Bazzad, Amirhossein Maleki, Amin Nosrati, Sushil Gulia
All Rounders- Deepak Hooda, Nitin Rawal, Sachin Narwal
Defenders- Sandeep Dhull, Amit Hooda, Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Vishal Lather, Pavan TR, Elavarasan, Shaul Kumar, Amit Kharb