Haryana Steelers: The real test

The Steelers went for a near-complete overhaul during the auction, and the team now has Monu Goyat — the most expensive player ever in the PKL — in pursuit of a better finish than the sixth last year.

Monu Goyat, the most expensive player ever in the PKL at Rs1.51 crore, will be in the spotlight for Haryana.   -  PTI

The Haryana Steelers, one of four new teams in the Pro Kabaddi League last year, finished a credible sixth out of 12 teams on debut. But the sixth season will be the real test for a team that went for a near-complete overhaul of its personnel at the auction.

Barring Kuldeep Singh, the Steelers did not retain any player from 2017, but the team bought back its talismanic captain Surender Nada during the auction. Nada will be one of the key players if Haryana hopes to advance past the league stages. A raider-heavy squad and the absence of proven all-rounders only adds to the pressure on the skipper, who mans the left-corner on court.

Having missed out on a spot in the Asian Games squad despite being the best defender in season 5 (80 points in 21 matches), Nada will be keen to prove his credentials all over again. What will make it difficult, though, will be the absence of Mohit Chillar at the right corner — the two had been together since the inception of the PKL before Chillar was snapped up by the Jaipur Pink Panthers this year.

But the man in spotlight will be Monu Goyat — at ₹1.51 crore, the most expensive player ever in the PKL. Having missed out on the first three seasons because of a lack of clearance from his employers, the Services man has been in a hurry to make up for lost time.

Payer to watch — Monu Goyat

From a supporting role at Bengal Warriors to catching the eye at Patna Pirates and being elevated to the undisputed star now at Steelers, the 25-year old raider has had a dream run in PKL. But along with the spotlight, he will also have to bear the pressure of performance. More so since his outing at the Asian Games — as it was for the entire team — was nothing great to write home about.