There’s a famous saying in sports that attack may win you games but its the defence which wins you the titles. In a sport where the majority of the limelight is taken up by the aggressive raiders, there are some defending masterminds who have done exceptionally well to stop their teams from being hunted.
In Kabaddi, defending is a tougher job, as the player not only have to avoid getting tagged by the raider but also grab hold and capture him in their own half. In this piece, we will look at the top rock-solid defenders in the Pro Kabaddi over the years.
- MANJEET CHHILLAR
A perfect definition of a proper all-rounder in the Pro Kabaddi, Manjeet Chhillar was the first player in the league to lead the tackle points tally in two different seasons. Manjeet made his mark early on and was adjudged the ‘Best Defender’ in the inaugural Pro Kabaddi season, which he followed up with the prestigious ‘Most Valuable Player’ award in the following season.
He finished the first three seasons amongst the league’s top five point scorers. In Season 6, the all-rounder became the first player to score 300 tackle points in the Pro Kabaddi. Chhillar is also one of two players with over 200 raid points and 200 tackle points in the league.
Manjeet with his wealth of experience has represented Bengaluru Bulls, Puneri Paltan and Jaipur Pink Panthers in the past. He currently represents the Tamil Thaliavas in the league. In 108 matches, the defender has made 324 successful tackles resulting in 339 tackle points and comfortably sits atop the table for the most tackle points.
- RAVINDER PAHAL
If Ravinder Pahal dives and gets a hold of the thigh of a raider then it means only one thing – tackle points for his team. With 64 points from 14 matches in Season 2, Ravinder emerged as the best defensive player in the league while playing for Dabang Delhi.
He covers the right corner of the defence beautifully and is always eager to catch hold of the ankle of the raider. The defender started his Pro Kabaddi career with Dabang Delhi for the first three seasons. Then he moved on to Puneri Paltan for Season 4 and represented the Bengaluru Bulls in Season 5 where he yet again broke the 50 points barrier. In Season 6 and 7, we saw him move back to Delhi.
With Delhi, he was back at his best and had two remarkable seasons with 59 and 63 points in Season 6 and 7, respectively. In a total of 112 matches, the defender has managed to initiate 307 successful tackles, earning a total of 326 points over the course of seven seasons.
- FAZEL ATRACHALI
Fazel Atrachali is as solid as a defender can get. On his day he can restrict the best of the best in the league. U Mumba’s captain ‘Sultan’ Fazel had a season of his life in 2019 where he lead from the front earning 84 points to become the only defender ever to score over 80 tackle points in a season.
The Iranian has represented U Mumba, Patna Pirates and Gujarat FortuneGiants over the seven seasons of the Pro Kabaddi. He is the first foreign defender to score 300 tackle points and also the fastest one to the milestone. The defender is also one of the only two players to have won multiple ‘Defender of the Season’ awards.
In just 103 matches, the defender has managed 297 successful tackles resulting in 317 tackle points and stands third in the all-time highest tackle points list.
- SANDEEP NARWAL
Another current U Mumba boy, Sandeep Narwal has worked extremely hard on his raiding skills and has become one of the most successful all-rounders around. Narwal scored 119 points in the inaugural season, making him the second most successful all-rounder of that campaign.
He started his journey in the Pro Kabaddi with Patna Pirates and represented them in the first three seasons. He then moved his base to the Telugu Titans and then immediately moved to Puneri Paltan for Season 5 and 6. In Season 7 he joined U Mumba and became the fourth player to score 300 tackle points in Pro Kabaddi.
He is one of three all-rounders to score over 500 points in the league. In 125 appearances, he has managed 282 successful tackles earning 310 tackle points in total.
- PO SURJEET SINGH
Surjeet Singh was a part of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup-winning Indian team. His journey in the Pro Kabaddi started in Season 3 with Puneri Paltan and then he moved onto U Mumba for Season 4. Season 5 with the Bengal Warriors was his best on a personal level, as he scored 79 tackle points as well as secured the joint-highest number of High 5s amongst all the defenders.
Season 7 saw him move back to the Puneri Paltan, where he was their most successful cover defender with 63 tackle points. He is a gutsy defender and is always looking for the bonus point.
In 94 matches in the Pro Kabaddi, the defender has managed 260 successful tackles earning his teams 278 points in total.
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