Aarrr! Patna Pirates will have revenge on its mind when it climbs aboard season seven of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). An early ouster last season forced the team management to hit the reset button at the auctions. Retaining only poster boy Pardeep Narwal, defender Jawahar Dagar, and all-rounder Vikas Jaglan, Patna Pirates, PKL's most successful franchise with three titles, opted to pick many uncapped players. But does that seal the gaping hole at the bottom of its ship?
The raiders: Ashish, Jang Kun Lee, Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou Mahalli, Mohit, Naveen, Pardeep Narwal, Purna Singh and Rajveersinh Pratap Rao Chavan
Patna will have to once again rely heavily on Dubki King Pardeep to start off from where he left last season. Pardeep has been the side's best raider to date and to put things into perspective, 11.09 of the 22.55 points Patna managed to scored at an average per game last season was claimed by the 22 year-old.
Patna's raiding this season will be further bolstered with the inclusion of the electric Jang Kun Lee, who had featured for Bengal Warriors since PKL 2. The South Korean’s skills in martial arts give him the upper hand on the mat, his agility rendering most defenders harmless. Mostly a raider, he has a solid defensive game too.
Iran's Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou Mahalli, who was part of the team that pipped India and went on to win the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, will also be sporting green and yellow for his maiden PKL outing. It will be interesting to watch out for his contribution to the side. Having said that, a major issue for the side to address would be the lack of an experienced bench to take the side forward in case of an unprecedented injury.
The defenders: Mahendra Choudhary, Neeraj Kumar, Jaideep, Surender Nada, Bintu Narwal, and Jawahar Dagar
Despite the presence of experienced campaigners in Surender Nada, Jaideep and Jawahar Dagar, defence has often been Patna Pirates' weak spot. The team ended up conceding 835 points last season, only second to UP Yoddhas' 847.
While Surender will most likely guard the left corner, Dagar would be the one on the right corner. That, however, casts a doubt on Jaideep’s role. While he could be brought in as the specialist left cover, which the team lacks, the change in position could prove to be tough to adapt to. Neeraj Kumar, who went for the highest bid on day two of the auctions at 44.75 lakh rupees, will be Patna’s pick for right cover.
The all-rounders: Hadi Oshtorak, Ravinder, Sahil Mann, and Vikas Jaglan
Iranian Hadi Oshtorak is a menace on the mat - his uses his signature block to perfection to pin down the best of raiders in the league. A quality raider as well, he maintains an excellent strike rate of 50. Vikas Jaglan too, has shown his calibre in the last two seasons, so a place in the starting seven shouldn’t be a concern. It remains to be seen whether Ravinder and Sahil Mann, the other uncapped all-rounders, can prove their mettle if and when they are fielded.
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