PKL Auction highlights: Telugu Titans gets Siddharth Desai for 1.45 crore, Rahul Chaudhari to Tamil Thalaivas for 94 lakh

Re-live day one of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) 2019 auction held in Mumbai.

A staggering 441 players will go under the hammer during the Pro Kabaddi League auctions held on April 8 and 9. (File Image)   -  Twitter/@ProKabaddi

Welcome to Sportstar's live coverage of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) auctions being held in Mumbai. Over the next two days, 441 players will go under the hammer and you can follow each of those bids live here.

This is Shyam Vasudevan here and I'll be providing you constant live updates as the auction unfurls. Stay tuned!

20:00 pm: That will be all from us for today. We'll see you at 9:30 am tomorrow morning for live updates from the second day of the PKL auction. Thanks for tuning in!

19:55 pm: And that brings us to the end of the first day's auction of the Pro Kabaddi League 2019. Iran's Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh became the second costliest foreign buy when we was signed by Bengal Warriors for a massive ₹77.75 Lakh early this morning.

However, that was only the beginning of things as the Indian raiders went on to light up the auctions in the evening. Last seasons 'Debutant of the Year' Siddharth Desai was picked up by Telugu Titans for a whopping ₹145 lakh, making him PKL's second-most expensive player of all time.

Nitin Tomar was retained by Puneri Paltan via the FBM for ₹120 lakh , while Tamil Thalaiva made a massive signing to rope in Rahul Chaudhari for ₹93 lakh. PKL's most expensive player ever, Monu Goyat, went to UP Yoddha for  ₹93 lakh, while U Mumba shelled out ₹89 lakh for Sandeep Narwal.

Here are the day's top buys so far-

1. Siddharth DesaiTelugu Titans₹145 lakh
2. Nitin TomarPuneri Paltan (FBM)₹120 lakh
3. Rahul ChaudhariTamil Thalaivas₹94 lakh
4. Monu GoyatUP Yoddha₹93 lakh
5. Sandeep NarwalU Mumba₹89 lakh
6. Mohammad Esmaeil NabibakhshBengal Warriors₹77.75 lakh


19:50 pm:
The next six raiders, including the likes of Kashiling Adake and Sukesh Hegde, go unsold and that brings us to the end of the first day's auction.

19:46 pm: Big money signing, this. Manjeet is sold to Puenri Paltan for ₹63 lakh. The Paltans make it two in two and also rope in Darshan Kadian for ₹20 lakh.

19:43 pm: Rohit Baliyan is the next man in and he's creating a buzz. Puneri Paltans and Bengaluru Bulls are in on it and U Mumba emerges as the party pooper to use its FBM card and retain him for ₹35 lakh.

19:38 pm: Jaipur Pink Panthers strengthen their raiding department with Nilesh Salunke's arrival for ₹23.5 lakh, while Pawan Kumar heads to Puneri Paltan for ₹20 lakh.

19:34 pm: SOLD! Puneri Paltan was really eager to rope in Prapanjan, but the Bengal Warriors have the last laugh. The sign the raider for ₹55.5 lakh. This Warriors side is starting to look super impressive now.

19:31 pm: Big man up next - K Prapanjan! The bids are flooding in and Puneri Paltan has made a bid of ₹52 lakhs for him!

19:28 pm: After four unsold players, we finally receive a bid for Deepak Narwal. It's a three-horse race between U Mumba, Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan and the Panthers emerge victorious. They sign him for ₹30.5 lakh.

19:26 pm: The next three defenders go unsold and we're down to the Category B raiders now.

19:24 pm: Haryana at it again! After roping in Dharamaraj, the side further bolsters its defence by signing Ravi Kumar for ₹20 lakh.

19:19 pm: Right-corner defender Vishal Mane goes to Dabang Delhi for ₹28.5 lakh, while Ruturaj Koravi heads to Gujarat FortuneGiants for ₹30.5 lakh.

19:13 pm: Haryana Steelers and Bengaluru Bulls go hammer and tongs for Dharmaraj Cheralathan. The Steelers win the battle and sign Cheralathan, perhaps the oldest player in PKL, for ₹38.5 lakh.

19:08 pm: Thirty-seven-year-old Jeeva Kumar, a veteran of the game, attracts strong bids from the Pink Panthers and Warriors, but its the latter that prevails. Bengal Warriors sign him for ₹31 lakh.

19:06 pm: Tamil Thalaivas swoop in the last moment to bring home Mohit Chillar. After securing Rahul Chaudhari for ₹94 lakh, Chillar arrives for ₹45 lakh. Chillar will play alongside Ajay Thakur now, in what promises to be one helluva team.

19:04 pm: Bengal Warriors signs Rinku Narwal for ₹20 lakh and its followed by an intense bidding war between Patna Pirates and Gujarat FortuneGiants for Mohit Chillar!

19:03 pm: The next three all-rounders go unsold and we're on to the Category B defenders now. We have a couple of big names such as Manjit Chillar in the fray!

19:00 pm: Vijay is sold to Dabang Delhi for ₹41 lakh, while Gujarat FortuneGiants sign Vinod Kumar for ₹26 lakh.

18:55pm: The Category B Domestic all-rounders will go under the hammer now.  There's no broadcast anymore though, so we're relying on our reporter's updates from the venue.

18:40 pm: When asked if he would learn Telugu now, he says he'd rather learn Persian instead! Why, you wonder? It's because Telugu Titans have roped in Iranian Gholamreza Mazandarani as their coach for the upcoming season.

Does the name Gholamreza ring a bell? He became the first foreigner to be named head coach last season and shot to fame when he guided Iran to the gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games. Iran had defeated India in the semis, by the way.

18:35 pm: Our reporter Anirudh Velamuri caught up with the man of the hour, Siddharth Desai, and this is what he had to say, "I was ready to dance! I was expecting ₹70-80 lakh, and I'm very happy that Telugu Titans started with ₹100 lakh instead."

18:22 pm: Shirkanth Jadhav has been retained by UP Yoddha for ₹68 lakh via the FBM.

18:20 pm:  After letting go of Monu Goyat, Haryana Steelers has signed Prashant Kumar Rai for ₹77 lakh.

STAT: Prashant was among the top-15 raiders last season, picking up 144 points in 21 matches.
 
18:16 pm: Rishank Devadiga attracts a series of bids, but UP Yoddha isn't willing to let go of him. The side uses its FBM to retain him for ₹61 lakh.

STAT: Rishank is among the most experienced raiders and a huge asset to UP Yoddha. Having scalped a staggering 594 points, he is 8th in the list of all-time leading scorers in PKL. 

18:13 pm: SIGNED! The Tamil Thaliavas makes its biggest signing to date by roping in 'Raid Machine' Rahul Chaudhari for 94 lakh!

 

STAT: Rahul Chaudhari is one of the finest raiders the game has seen. Over six seasons, he has amassed 876 points, the most in PKL history. What a signing for the Thalaivas! Rahul will now play alongside national captain Ajay Thakur!

18:10 pm: UP Yoddha flexing their muscles! Monu Goyat heads to UP Yoddha for a massive ₹93 lakh.

- Monu bagged 160 raid points last season in the 20 matches he played, the 11th highest in the league.

 

18:08 pm: The most expensive player in PKL history, Monu Goyat is up next! He had a fairly lukewarm season last time around though. Will he reach the ₹100 lakh tag?

18:06 pm: Nitin Tomar has been retained! After a super intense battle, Tamil Thaliavas offered ₹120 lakh, but the Puneri Paltan had none of it! They swooped in with the FBM card to retain their star raider.

 

STAT: Nitin Tomar is 13th on the all-time raid points list.

18:03 pm: Siddharth Desai's last season in numbers:

  • 50 - Fastest to reach 50 raid points
  • 100- Equalled the record for 100 raid points (held by Rahul Chaudhari)
  • 200- Was the first rookie to score 200 raids points in a season
  • 1- All of this in his first PKL season. An absolute BEAST!

18:01 pm: WE HAVE A NEW RECORD! Telugu Titans snap up Siddharth Desai for a massive ₹145 lakh, making him the second most expensive player in PKL history!

 

17:59 pm: Here's what Jaipur Pink Panthers owner Abhishek Bachchan had said about him earlier today: "Any team would be foolish to not go for Siddharth Desai. He is fit, the league has provided us medical reports. He had insane stats last season, he's a monster on the mat and off the mat he is a lovely person."

17:57: Siddharth was among the names to watch out for and what a stir he is creating here! In no time, the bids have reached 125 lakhs! If the price tag remains, he will become the third most expensive player in PKL history.

17:55 pm: It's the big man up next, Siddharth Desai! And what's the first bid he gets? A HUNDRED LAKH from the Telugu Titans!

17:55 pm: RETAINED! Puneri Paltan offered ₹70 lakh to sign Ranjit, but Dabang Delhi used its FBM to retain him.

17:52 pm: The raiders are up for grabs now and the first name is the veteran Chandran Ranjit. He had a fine run last season, amassing 153 raid points for Dabang Delhi.

17:47 pm: That brings us to the end of the auctions for the defenders. Up next? The raiders! Siddharth Desai, Rahul Chaudhari, Nitin Tomar and Monu Goyat are all in the fray! This should be FUN!

17:45 pm: Jaipur Pink Panthers has bolstered is defence with the experience of Amit Hooda. The fearless defender, who was with Tamil Thalaivas last season, has been picked up for ₹53 lakh.

17:42 pm: And the streak continues, another FBM comes into play! Telugu Titans uses its FBM card to hold on to ace defender Vishal Bharadwaj for ₹60 lakh.

Vishal played a key role in anchoring the defence last season, picking up 60 points in the process. Can you believe he's only 22?

17:40 pm: Another FBM used and Pavesh Bhainswal is retained by the Gujarat FortuneGiants for ₹75 lakh. This will be his third consecutive season with GFG. What's with everyone using their FBM cards already?

17:38 pm: Mahender Singh, who was instrumental in Bengaluru Bulls winning its maiden title last season, has been retained! Jaipur Pink Panthers were eager to get him on board, with a bid of ₹75 lakh, but the Bulls used their FBM to retain him at ₹80 lakh.

The 23-year-old scored 63 points in the 24 games he played last season.

17:35 pm: Patna Pirates retain Jaideep for ₹35 lakh by using their FBM card.

17:33 pm: Former Bengal Warriors man Surjeet Singh, who finished with 54 tackle points last season, heads to Puneri Paltan for ₹56 lakh.

17:30 pm: Girish Ernak heads back to Puneri Paltan! The Gujarat FortuneGiants had bid for ₹33 lakh, but the Paltans used their FBM to retain him. Remember, Patna Pirates has to build its squad from scratch after it released its entire roster.

 

17:27 pm: Patna Pirates get Surender! The left-corner specialist was bought by the three-time champion for ₹77 lakh.

17:25 pm: Surender wil be making a comeback after he was ruled out of nearly all of last season owing to a hand injury. He only played one game for the Steelers last season. As I type this out, the bids have reached ₹73 lakh!

17:24 pm: Surender Nada, the ankle hold specialist, is the next one to go under the hammer. He has been with Haryana Steelers for the past two seasons.

17:23 pm: Tamil Thalaivas appeared to have signed Pahal for ₹61 lakh, but Dabang Delhi uses its FBM to retain him.

17:19 pm: Defender Ravinder Pahal is the next man in the picture. He played for Dabang Delhi last season, bagging 59 points in 22 matches.

STAT: Ravinder Pahal has 263 tackle points in six season, the second highest in the league!

17:17 pm: U Mumba get their man! After a series of intensive bidding, U Mumba gets Sandeep Narwal for ₹89 lakh. He's officially the most expensive signing of the day.

STAT: Sandeep Narwal holds the record for the most number of Super Tackles in PKL history - 23.

17:16 pm: We're down to ₹88 lakh now! Boy oh boy, will we have our first ₹1 crore bid of the evening?

17:13 pm: Wow, this is getting intense! The bids have reached ₹70 lakh for Sandeep Narwal and doesn't look like the bids are stopping anytime soon! He's already set to become the at least the third most expensive player of the day!

17:08 pm: Sandeep Narwal up next. Unrelated fact, but the al-rounder from Haryana turned 26 three days ago!

17:07 pm: SOLD! Tamil Thalaivas have bought Ran Singh for ₹55 lakh. Bengal Warriors had the chance to retain him via the FBM, but chose against it.

17:02 pm: First up is Category A - Domestic all-rounders. We only have two players in this category, Ran Singh being the first. The bids are coming in and from a base price of ₹30 lakh, we've reached ₹50 lakh now! The Tamil Thalaivas are eager to get Ran Singh in their roster.

17:00 pm: LIVE LIVE LIVE! And we're off! The auctioneer for the evening, Chris Cowdrey, is laying out the rules of the auction before we get started.

16:50 pm: The video I was talking about? Here it is:

 

16:45 pm: Here's the remaining Purse for each team

Puneri Paltan₹3.97 crore
UP Yoddha₹3.02 crore
Tamil Thalaivas₹2.72 crore
Dabang Delhi₹2.71 crore
Haryana Steelers₹2.65 crore
Telugu Titans₹2.55 core
Gujarat FortuneGiants₹2.36 crore
Bengal Warriors₹2.29 crore
U Mumba₹2.03 crore
Patna Pirates₹1.94 crore
Jaipur Pink Panthers₹1.73 crore
Bengaluru Bulls₹1.46 crore


16:40 pm:
It's interesting to note that Puneri Paltan chose to release its entire squad. The side will truly get off to a fresh start under new coach and former India captain, Anup Kumar. Here's what Paltan's team mentor, Ashok Shinde, told Sportstar: “Our results in the recent seasons have not been up to expectation, so we decided to get a fresh start. Anup Kumar played under me before, so we understand each other on the quality in players we are looking at.”

16:35 pm: Before we head into the auction, here are all the guidelines you need to know:

  • The teams' purse has been increased from ₹4 crore to ₹4.4 crore.
  • Each team can buy between 18 and 25 players in the auction, with 18 being the minimum number
  • Each franchise also has the option of retaining a maximum of six players and three New Young Players (NYP) who have been selected through the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme

16:30 pm: I'm a little late, I apologize for that. We made a quick roundup video about the morning session and what to expect from this evening. That's coming out in a bit!

16:00 pm: Alright then, we'll take another short break and be back at 4:20 pm sharp. The big names of Indian kabaddi - 'Raid Machine' Rahul Chaudhari, Monu Goyat, Siddharth Desai - and the likes will be up for grabs when we return. Stay tuned!

Oh and you can read more on our top 5 picks here - PKL auction: Five big names to watch out for (Pssst...Abozar doesn't count!)

15:50 pm: And that brings us to the end of the auction for the overseas players. Here is the list of the five top buys:

PlayerTeamAmount

1. Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh

Bengal Warriors₹77.75 Lakh
2. Abozar MighaniTelugu Titans (FBM)₹75 Lakh
3. Jang Kun LeePatna Pirates₹40 Lakh
4. Mohammad MaghsoudlouPatna Pirates₹35 Lakh
5. Dong Geon LeeU Mumba₹25 Lakh


15:45 pm:
Thailand's Tin Ponchoo is the last overseas player to be sold as the Haryana Steelers snap him up for ₹10 lakh. Interestingly, Kenyan raider David Mosambayi, was bought by Jaipur Pink Panthers for ₹10 lakh last year, has no takers.

15:42 pm: Sri Lanka's Milinda Chathuranga heads to Jaipur Pink Panthers for ₹10 lakh, while Bangladesh's Shazid Hossain goes to Gujarat FortuneGiants for the same cost.

15:40pm: Dong Gyu Kim and Dewitt Jennings have have been signed by Jaipur Pink Panthers and Telugu Titans for ₹10 lakh respectively.

15:38 pm: We're back and Bagladesh's Masud Karim has been sold to UP Yoddha for ₹10 lakh. That's their first signing of the day!

15:30 pm: We'll have a short break of 5-10 minutes to collect the nominations for the unsold players before we resume. Stay tuned.

15:27 pm: I stand corrected, there's another Iranian. Emad Sedaghat Nia heads to Puneri Paltan for ₹11.25 lakh. 

15:25 pm: And that's the last Iranian player in the auction, and he's sold! Last season's runner-up Gujarat FortuneGiant signs him for Abolfazl Maghsodloumahali ₹15.75 lakh.

15:22 pm: I missed out on this one. Making their first signing, Tamil Thalaivas roped in Iranian Milat Sheibak for ₹10 lakh right after lunch.

15:20 pm: South Korea's Dong Geon Lee is up next and U Mumba acquire him for ₹25 lakh. Lee has quite the story.

Did you know that he hadn't even heard of kabaddi until 2015? “I was in the same university as Jang Kun Lee (Bengal Warriors star), and one day he approached me to ask if I had heard of kabaddi. When I told him that I hadn’t he insisted that I try my hand at the sport. From there I played in the Beach Asian Games and then went on to represent South Korea in the Kabaddi World Cup,” he had said in an earlier interview.

15:15 pm: Mohammad Taghi Paeinmahalli heads to Bengal Warriors for ₹15.5 lakh. I've looked all around but I can't seem to get any information on Panmagani. Any of you recollect his name? Update: He played in the Iranian team in the 2016 kabaddi World Cup and beach kabaddi in the 2014 Asian Beach Games.

15:10 pm: Mohammad Maghsoudlou goes for big money!  U Mumba and Haryana Steelers were bidding for him when Patna Pirates came out of nowhere with a massive bid of ₹35 lakh to swoop him away!

15:06 pm: Another Iranian in the fray, and to little surprise, he's bought in quick time. Raider Amir Hossein heads to Haryana Steelers for ₹12.5 lakh.

15:03 pm: First overseas raider to be sold! Bengaluru Bulls ropes in Nepal's Lal Mohar Yadav for ₹10 lakh. Puneri Paltan has the option to use the FBM, but opts against it.

15:00 pm: We move on to the overseas raiders and none of them are attracting bids! The first 10 players receive no bids and go unsold. Looks like the teams are holding on to the big bucks for the Indian raiders!

14:57 pm: SOLD! Iran's Hadi Tajik, the right-corner defender, has been picked up by Puneri Paltan for ₹10 lakh. A key signing for the Paltans as they will be building their team from scratch after they released all their players. Tajik played for U Mumba last season.

14:55 pm: The auction has resumed and Sri Lanka's Ranidu Chamara and Malaysia's Mugilan Batumalai go unsold.

14:50 pm: The post lunch session will see the remaining overseas players go under the hammer before the bigwigs of Indian kabaddi, the Category A stars, are up for grabs.

14:45 pm: More from the morning session - Abozar Mighani was retained by Telugu Titans for ₹75 lakh, Jang Kun Lee - who is the first overseas player to score 400 raid points - was snapped up by Patna Pirates for ₹40 lakh. Interestingly, this will the first time Lee will play with a different outfit, having been with Bengal Warriors for the past six seasons.

14:40 pm: Aaaaaaaaand, we're back. To quickly recap, Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh announced his arrival to PKL in style as he was bought by Bengal Warriors for a whopping ₹77.75 lakh. Nabibakhsh becomes the league's second most expensive overseas player, second only to his compatriot Fazel Atrachalli.

14:00pm: Alright, and with that, we shall break for lunch. We will resume with the overseas players' auction at 2:45pm. Time to grab some grub, see you soon!

1:59 pm: Another Iranian signed! Saeid Ghaffari heads to Dabag Delhi for ₹16.5 lakh.

1:55 pm: Defending champion Bengaluru Bulls join the party! The side acquires Nepalese 34-year-old all-rounder Sanjay Shrestha for ₹10 lakh.

1:52 pm: A bunch of players go unsold following all the action around Nabibakhsh's auction.

1:50 pm: Nabibakhsh is a relatively well-known name among the Indian kabaddi stars. He was part of the Iran team that knocked India out of the 2018 Asian Games! No surprise that he attracted such a steep bid?

1:47 pm: SOLD! Bengal Warriors, the latest entrants in the bidding war, sign Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh for a league record of ₹77.75 lakh.

Nabibakhsh is officially PKL's second most expensive overseas player, only behind compatriot Fazel Atrachalli. Best part? Nabibakhsh is making his debut in the PKL this season!

1:46 pm: Another new bidder, it's the Bengal Warriors now! Just when it appeared to favoring the Telugu Titans, the Warriors come in with a massive bid of ₹75.25 lakh. That, ladies and gents, is officially the highest bid of the day.

1:42 pm: We have a new entrant in the race to sign Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, it's the Telugu Titans! They come swooping in with a ₹61.71 lakh bid. Pirates appear to be backing out now and it's down to U Mumba and the Titans.

1:40 pm: We're at ₹50 lakh now! Both teams are relentless and my colleague Anirudh Velamuri, who's at the venue, quips this bidding war isn't ending any time soon! 

1:36 pm: It's been over five minutes and U Mumba and Patna Pirates are still fighting for the Iranian! U Mumba has just bid a massive ₹38 Lakh for him! The bids began at a base price of ₹10 Lakh, mind you.

1:32 pm: Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh is next and he's attracting some heavy bids here! Patna Pirates and U Mumba are battling it out for his services.

 

1:30 pm: Thailand's Tin Phonchoo and Bangladesh's Shazid Hossain go unsold, and will return to the auction pool later.

1:28 pm: Pirates at it again! After the Korean, the side now adds an Iranian to its roster! Hadi Oshtorak has been signed for ₹16 Lakh.

1:27 pm: Iranian all-rounder Hadi Oshtorak is up next and it's a battle between Patna Pirates and his former team Gujarat FortuneGiants.

1:24 pm: The Patna Pirates are clearly looking to bolster their team. After Abozar was snatched away from them in the last second, the side shells out ₹40 Lakh to rope in Korean Jang Kun Lee.

1:21 pm: TELUGU TITANS RETAIN ABOZAR! A fascinating bidding war sees Patna Pirates nearly snap up the Iranian defender for ₹75 Lakh, but the Titans use their FBM  to retain his services. Phew!

1:15 pm: We're off! Abozar Mighani is the first name in the fray and the bids are lining up! From a base price of ₹30 Lakh, the bids have raced to 60 Lakh from Patna Pirates in no time!

1:10 pm: Chris Cowdrey is the auctioneer! The former England all-rounder will the man with the hammer today.

1:05 pm: So a total of 53 foreigners, from 12 countries, will take part in the overseas players' auction. The Republic of Korea leads the roster with 12 represents.  Here is base price for each category - Categories: A - base cost ₹30 Lakh, B - ₹20 Lakh, C - ₹10 Lakh, D - ₹6 Lakh.

1:00 pm: We're back! Iranian Abozar Mighani, who was last season's most expensive defender at ₹76 lakh, will be the biggest name to look out for.

12:45 pm: The auctions for the overseas players is set ti begin in the next five-odd minutes. I'm going to take a breather now, you'll stay tuned!

12:40 pm: Concluding the presser, Abhishek Bachchan showers praise on former India captain Anup Kumar, who will take over as coach at Puneri Paltan. "Kabaddi is going to miss Anup Kumar. It's wonderful to have him back as a coach. He is one of the greatest ever in the country, possibly one of the top-3 players of all time. It's great to see him coaching, but the kabaddi world will miss him as a player."

After spending five seasons with U Mumba, Anup was last seen in action with the Jaipur Pink Panthers last season. Anup is one of India's most accomplished players, having led the country to its third Kabaddi World Cup in 2016, apart from the Asian Games gold medals in 2010 and 2014.

Here's more on Anup's career - Former India captain Anup Kumar to coach Puneri Paltan

12:35 pm: Goswami says the PKL has resumed to its normal dates and  is hopeful that it continues to have people glued to their television sets, "The seventh edition of the PKL will be played between July 19 and October 9. Last season was longer, but the little setbacks we had could also be because of the shift in dates because of the Asian Games. This time, we are back to our normal window. Which means normal services resumed, I hope."

12:30 pm: Talk about raiding department and you cannot forget the league's all-time top raider, the Dubki King, Pardeep Narwal. "For us, we need to build a team that supports Pardeep Narwal," says Patna Pirates owner Rajesh. Pardeep had an able raiding companion in Monu Goyat until last season when the latter was snapped up by Haryana Steelers. Could Monu perhaps make a comeback to the Pirates? Hmm.

12:28 pm: "In category A raiders, each is a game changer and a game winner. Have one in your team? Get more. Injuries can always happen, you need to have a contingent plan. Sid Desai and Abozar Mighani will be the one's to watch out for," adds Bachchan.

More on Siddharth here - Recovering Siddharth Desai looking forward Season 7 auction

12:25 pm: Siddharth Desai is the name doing the rounds! Abhishek Bachchan makes it clear, he's out to get him! "Any team would be foolish to not go for Siddharth Desai. He is fit, the league has provided us medical reports. He had insane stats last season, he's a monster on the mat and off the mat he is a lovely person," he says.

"U Mumba would be foolish not to retain him. You bid for the temperament, not just the talent. The whole package. That's why I talk about Sid Desai, he has a down to earth attitude," he adds.

Fun fact: Siddharth's elder brother, Suraj, has in fact played for the Jaipur Pink Panthers!

12:20 pm: Patna owner Rajesh Shah chips in,"Strategy doesn't matter. The auction is unpredictable. Get a squad, train and then they go on the mat. But masses love kabbadi because the sport is unpredictable. What the players do on the mat is what it all comes down to, irrespective of how the auctions and training goes."

12:17 pm: Bachchan continues on how it is imperative to not focus on the raiders alone, but to target the defenders too. "In football, strikers get more money than defenders. But that doesn't say it all. Last season, Fazel Atrachalli was sold for ₹1 crore. That shows you how important they are," he says.

Strong point, this! Can we call Fazel the Virgil Can Dijk of kabbadi?

12:13 pm: Jaipur Pink Panthers retained ace raider Dipak Niwas Hooda and defender Sandeep Kumar Dhull. Delving into his team's strategy at the auction, he says, "A great auction means you've won half the battle. I thought I had a good auction last season, but it didn't reflect on the mat. Teams have learnt over the last five years on auction strategy, so it will be interesting to see which way who goes."

12:10 pm: Talking about the nature of the sport, he says, "In cricket, you can miss overs or even an innings. Kabaddi is very quick, you can't miss a second, it's such a fast sport. Decision making has to be top notch. That can come with experience, but experience sometimes fails, so that's when energy and youth comes in."

12:07 pm: Bachchan agrees with Goswami and stresses on the important of the emergence of young talent in the league by drawing comparison with the Indian premier League. "If you look at any league, the emphasis is on young talent. They are the future. Even in the IPL, before it came about you only heard 11 or 15 Indian players. Today you hear more names," he says.

"Thats what is happening in kabaddi. With each season, you hear more and more names. That's because the youth is given a change. Sport has become a viable living option. They get the opportunity to perform on a world platform, play and coach with the best. It's very important for the growth of sport. Last season, the kids made a big impact and the same should happen this season," he adds. 

12:05 pm: Goswami goes on to talk about the PKL's New Young Players (NYP) programme. "It has worked well because it has given us a new generation (of players). We are still going with NYP programme. The teams are also doing their scouting and conducting programmes. It (NYP) could be one of the strongest elements of the league," he says.

12:03 pm: Goswami says, "The competitive quality in PKL has increased from season 5 to 6. There was a 15% increase in points scored from 7608 points to 8769 points. The number of tackles also went up by 21%."

12:00 pm: Alright, we're live! League commissioner Anupam Goswami, Jaipur Pink Panthers owner Abhishek Bachchan and Patna Pirates owner Rajesh Shah are addressing the media.

12:00 pm: Who were the other players who were released, you wonder? It's quite shocking, but four of the five Indians who were sold in excess of ₹1 crore were released by their respective teams. And Puneri Paltan decided to release its entire roster! Full details - Full list of Elite players retained

11:50 am: He was subsequently released by U Mumbai this season though, as he had to undergo a shoulder surgery. Our correspondent Nandakumar Marar caught up with him ahead of the auction, and a Siddharth says he's eager to make it count.  More on that here - Recovering Siddharth Desai looking forward Season 7 auction

11:45 am: Speaking of Pawan, we cannot forget the mighty Siddharth Desai, who took the league by storm last year. In what was his debut season, he was the fastest to accomplish 50 raid points and equalled the record for 100 raid points (held by Rahul Chaudhari). He was also the first rookie to score 200 raids points in a season, averaging 10.38 raid points per match. Quite the debut, eh?

11:40 am: Here's a quick recap of how Pawan's stunning 22 raid points steered Bengaluru Bulls to its first PKL title last season - Pawan Sehrawat powers Bulls to maiden PKL title

11:35 am: Reigning champion Bengaluru Bulls has retained its two key men, captain Rohit Kumar and the phenomenal Pawan Kumar Sehrawat for the upcoming season. Pawan was an absolute beast on the mat last season, amassing a staggering 271 raid points, the highest in the league. Pardeep Narwal was the second best with 233 points - a difference of 38 points!

11:25 am: I'd written a little something on how the Pro Kabaddi League, with its 12 franchises, pre-season player auctions, live television coverage and smart packaging, has taken what was considered a crude, rural sport played in muddy fields into air-conditioned indoor stadiums. Sounds interesting? You can read more on that here - Super Raids, Super Tackles — Pro Kabaddi going all out!

11:15 am: Rahul Chaudhari, Monu Goyat, Niitin Tomar or Siddharth Desai, who'll attract the highest bid today? Will Haryana Steelers' record bid of ₹1.51 crore to sign Monu last season be erased today? We're as confused as you are, but have managed to put down five names to watch out for in today's auction. READ - PKL auction: Five big names to watch out for

11:05 am: So today's auction will begin with the overseas players going under the hammer first. As many as 53 foreign players will be up for grabs. In order to widen the league's reach, each team is required to field a minimum of two foreign players and a maximum of four for the upcoming season.

Here's our reporter Anirudh Velamuri's preview:

It's time for kabaddi-kabaddi-kabaddi again

The auctions for the seventh season of the Pro Kabaddi League will take place on April 8 and 9 in Mumbai, where 12 teams will battle it out to pick the best available talent heading in to the new season.

Each team can buy between 18 and 25 players in the auction, with 18 being the minimum number. Over 441 players will be up for grabs this year, 388 domestic and 53 foreigners and the teams' purse has been increased from ₹4 crore to ₹4.4 crore.

Twenty nine players have been retained in the Elite Retained Players category ahead of the auctions, an increase from the previous season’s 21.

RELATED| Recovering Siddharth Desai looking forward Season 7 auction

Of the six players who were bought for more than ₹1 crore last year, four of them – all Indians – have been released: Monu Goyat (Haryana Steelers, ₹1.51 crore), Rahul Chaudhari (Telugu Titans, ₹1.29 crore via FBM), Nitin Tomar (Puneri Paltan, ₹1.15 crore) and Rishank Devadiga (UP Yoddha, ₹1.11 crore via FBM). Jaipur Pink Panthers' Deepak Niwas Hooda (₹1.15 crore) and U Mumba's Iranian defender Fazel Athrachali (₹1 crore) are the only two big names to be retained.

Each franchise also has the option of retaining a maximum of six players and three New Young Players (NYP) who have been selected through the Future Kabaddi Heroes programme (FKHP) – PKL’s nationwide talent hunt for players under age of 22.

“As the numbers from the season 6 (PKL) suggest, one-third of the NYP’s have played in nine matches or more. Since there are more young players involved in it, the number of points scored across the 138 matches has increased. So, we have decided to increase the number of young players for the teams,” league commissioner Anupam Goswami told Sportstar earlier.

RELATED| Former India captain Anup Kumar to coach Puneri Paltan

The last two seasons have seen players emerge from the FKHP do phenomenally well in the league. Gujarat FortuneGiant's Sachin Tanwar emerged as his side's top scorer and won the 'Emerging Player of The Year' award in season five, while UP Yoddha's Nitesh Kumar became the first defender to bag 100 points in a single edition of the PKL last season.

Aiming for squad continuity

To build squad continuity, a new category called ‘Retained Young Players’ has been introduced, where teams can retain players previously picked from the 'New Young Players' category, after the player has completed two seasons with the team. These retained young players do not count towards the existing cap of six new young players a team can get.

The new category will help teams retain a majority of its squad from the previous season, which is something league commissioner Anupam Goswami stressed on.

“The League is cognizant of the significance of squad continuity and long-term association of players with their respective teams towards creating strong hooks and bonds for fans as well as sponsors. With this realisation, VIVO Pro Kabaddi League has consistently strengthened its Player Retention Policy to facilitate and augment squad continuity, to benefit players as well as their teams,” he said.

RELATED| Read more on the FKHP here

Puneri Paltan is the only outfit which hasn't retained a single player this season. The players retained by the teams this year sees a mixture of young and experienced players. Tamil Thalaivas has retained Ajay Thakur for the second year in a row, along with Manjeet Chhillar, while a host of young players, including Haryana Steelers' 21-year-old Vikash Khandola, have been retained.

Here's the complete list of Elite Retained Players:

Team

Players 1

Player 2

Player 3

Player 4

Bengal Warriors

Baldev Singh

Maninder Singh

--

--

Bengaluru Bulls

Rohit Kumar

Pawan Kumar Sehrawat

Ashish Kumar Sangwan

--

Dabang Delhi K.C

Meraj Sheykh

Joginder Narwal

--

--

Gujarat Fortunegiants

Sachin

Sunil Kumar

--

--

Haryana Steelers

Kuldeep Singh

Vikash Khandola

--

--

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Deepak Niwas Hooda

Sandeep Kumar Dhull

--

--

Patna Pirates

Pardeep Narwal

Vikas Jaglan

Tushar Patil

Jawahar

Puneri Paltan

NA

NA

NA

NA

Tamil Thalaivas

Ajay Thakur

Manjeet Chhillar

Victor Onyango Obiero

--

Telugu Titans

Armaan

Mohsen Maghsoudloujafari

Farhad Rahimi Milaghardan

Krushna Madane

U Mumba

Fazel Atrachali

Rajaguru Subramanian

Arjun Deshwal

--

UP Yoddha

Amit

Sachin Kumar

--

--

 

Apart from the retained players, teams also have a 'Final Bid Match' card. Introduced last year, it gives a team the option to get a player who was in its squad the previous season by matching the final bid made for him at the auction. For example, Haryana Steelers as released Monu Goyat. During the auction, the Steelers can match a bid made for the raider by another franchise by using the FBM card and get him back at the revised value.

If a team has not retained the maximum allowed number of players, it gets two cards. Otherwise, it gets only one.