Every year the Pro Kabaddi League, India’s domestic kabaddi tournament, churns out raw and exuberant talents in the global Kabaddi scene. There are the Maserati in Rahul Chaudhari, Pardeep Narwal, Pawan Sehrawat and Ajay Thakur, but the new kids in the block are the ones who make the difference between a title-winning team and the one which just falls short.
In the six years of its existence, Pro Kabaddi has made these local players a household name, giving the rural sport a great impetus in the country. With love for the sport at its all-time high, the youngsters are getting pulled to this sport like never before. Here we have the ones to look out for in the near future, as they aim to have a go at the kingpins and knock them off their perch in the upcoming seasons.
Club: Dabang Delhi
It’s Naveen Kumar’s technique which sets him apart from the rest. He has got lighting fast reflexes which makes him stand out in the Pro Kabaddi. The 19-year-old became the first player to be born in this millennium to play in the league. Alongside this, he also became the youngest player to record a 300 raid point campaign. He managed to take Dabang Delhi to the final of Season 7 for the first time in the history of the franchise, with an unparalleled run of 22 Super 10s in a row. He has a knack of pulling off clutch raids and is definitely the most highly anticipated young player in the league.
Club: Haryana Steelers
The emergence of Pro Kabaddi has provided the sport with a platform to nurture the upcoming talents via many grassroots programmes. One such product of these programmes is Haryana Steelers’ raider Vikas Kandola. The youngster set the league on fire with some eye-catching attacking plays in Season 7. The raider managed to stack up the most points for his team in Season 6 and was also amongst the most successful raiders when it came to Super Raids. His numbers keep on improving every season and he could be well on his way to becoming one of the top raiders in the upcoming seasons.
Club: Telugu Titans
The defender from Himachal Pradesh became one of the youngest players ever to captain a Pro Kabaddi side when he was given the role to lead Telugu Titans in Season 6. He shot into the limelight in Season 5 of the league and was a regular member in the backbone of the Titans team. He finished the season as the third-most successful defender in the league. He got his India call-up in 2017 and was a part of the gold medal-winning 2017 Asian Championship team.
Club: UP Yoddha
The defender with the magnets in his hands, Nitesh Kumar doesn’t let any raider get away from him. He was a find from the Future Kabaddi Heroes Programme. He surpassed all expectations in his rookie season in 2017 and then went onto achieve the unimaginable in Season 6 of Pro Kabaddi. He became the first defender in the history of the competition to score 100 tackle points in a single season. A feat no defender has been able to surpass till date.
Club: UP Yoddha
It seems like defenders are born and bred in UP. While in Season 6 it was Nitesh Kumar who impressed one and all, Season 7 found a gem in another youngster, Sumit. The defender showed maturity beyond his age against some of the best raiders that the league has to offer over the years. In just 22 appearances, he finished as the second-highest tackle point scorer in the league. With age and talent both by his side, it is now left to see what more Sumit has to offer in Pro Kabaddi as well as at the national stage.
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