Jaipur Pink Panthers: Hoping to regain lost glory

The Jaipur Pink Panthers chose not to retain any player from 2017, and the team’s acquisitions this year – from Deepak Niwas Hooda to Mohit Chhillar – signal its intent.

The acquisition of Deepak Niwas Hooda for Rs1.15 crore signalled the side’s intent, winning a bidding war with Haryana Steelers and Dabang Delhi for his signature.   -  Special Arrangement

 Since the Jaipur Pink Panthers won the inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi league, the side has regressed, reaching the playoffs only once in the last four seasons. Given the demanding, passionate nature of its owner, the actor Abhishek Bachchan, and a couple of high-profile purchases at this year’s auction, the Pink Panthers go into the forthcoming season with title ambitions.

Jaipur chose not to retain any player from Season 5. The acquisition of Deepak Niwas Hooda, who was with Puneri Paltan for the last two seasons, for ₹1.15 crore signalled the side’s intent as it won a bidding war with Haryana Steelers and Dabang Delhi for the all-rounder.

The Pink Panthers’ defending in the last season left a lot to be desired — its tally of 171 tackle points and 162 successful tackles was the second-lowest in league — and it has attempted to remedy that vulnerability by adding Sandeep Kumar Dhull for ₹66 lakh. Dhull had gone unsold in the Season 5 auction, but he was among the top 10 most successful tacklers — making 35 — with the Telugu Titans in Season 4. Mohit Chhillar, who was with Haryana Steelers last season, was the franchise’s another big-money signing, costing Jaipur ₹58 lakh.

Anup Kumar, who was with U Mumba in 2017, is the marquee raider signed by the Pink Panthers for ₹30 lakh and has been named captain.

Player to watch - Deepak Niwas Hooda

The side’s highest-paid player, Jaipur will look up to Deepak Niwas Hooda to lead its charge. He is one of only five players to have commanded more than ₹1 crore at the auction and hence the spotlight will be on the all-rounder.