Patna Pirates: The favourite again

The best player in the league. The most-balanced side in the league. Three straight titles. What more need be said about the Patna Pirates?

Pardeep Narwal scored a whopping 21 points in 25 attempts for Patna Pirates.   -  Special Arrangement

There’s little doubt which team is the favourite to win the Pro Kabaddi League’s sixth season. With three straight titles, the Patna Pirates seem destined for glory once again.

Its talismanic raider Pardeep Narwal was unstoppable last season. And while Monu Goyat moved to the Haryana Steelers for a record ₹1.51 crore, Patna has done a decent job filling those giant shoes, bringing back Deepak Narwal, who was prolific for the Bengal Warriors last season, scoring 85 raid points in 16 matches. Deepak was with the Pirates when the team won its first title, and will he be looking to add another this year. And raiders Surender Singh, Tushar Patil, Manjeet and Vikas Jaglan will ensure the side isn’t overly reliant on Pardeep in the attack.

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Jaideep was the other standout performer for the Pirates last season. While Pardeep was engaged in stealing nearly all the points he could take from the other side of the court, Jaideep made sure nothing was taken from his side of it. With 71 points, he had the third-highest tackle points last season. While Manish was retained, the Pirates bought three other defenders — Ravinder Kumar, Vijay Kumar and Vikas Kale — in the auction.

The team has a strong set of all-rounders, too. Jawahar Dagar and Kuldeep Singh scored 29 and 31 tackle points, respectively, last season. South Koreans Hyun-il Park and Tae Deok Eom make up the foreign contingent. The latter’s experience will come in handy, while Arvind Kumar, Parveen Birwal and Vijay are exciting prospects.

The Pirates will get a chance to play on home soil again after having to shift base to Ranchi last season. The team will play its home matches at the Patliputra Sports Complex.

Player to watch — Pradeep Narwal

His numbers speak for him. The 21-year-old had a fairytale season in 2017, smashing record after record. His 369 points was — by a huge margin — the highest by a player in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League. The Dubki King also scored 34 raid points in a single match and a staggering eight points from one raid.