The eighth season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) gets underway on December 22 when Bengaluru Bulls takes on former champion U Mumba in Bengaluru.
The entire PKL season will be held inside a bio-bubble at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Bengaluru and will be the first indoor sporting league to return after the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of what promises to be an enthralling season, here are five top defenders to look out for -
Fazel Atrachali - U Mumba
Fazel Atrachali became the first player to reach the one crore mark in season six when U Mumba bought the Iranian defender. As the captain of U Mumba, Fazel leads by example, and was the defender to score above 80 tackle points last season (82 points). Guarding the left corner, the muscular Iranian was the first foreign defender to score 300 tackle points in the league. Fazel is one of the only two players with multiple best defender awards.
Nitesh Kumar - UP Yoddha
The captain of UP Yoddha, Nitesh Kumar was the first and only defender to score 100 tackle points in a single Pro Kabaddi League campaign and subsequently was named the best defender in season six. Mastering the ankle hold, the 24-year-old lad’s eight High 5s in season six are the second-most by a defender in a single campaign. Nitesh scored the third-highest tackle points (75 points) and six High 5s last season.
Sandep Kumar Dhull - Jaipur Pink Panthers
Cementing his place as one of the best left corner defenders in the game, Sandeep Kumar Dhull enjoyed a successful campaign with Jaipur Pink Panthers in season six. A potent player in super tackle situations, Dhull is capable of bringing down a raider single-handedly. Finishing as Jaipur Pink Panther’s most successful defender with 67 tackle points in season six, he was also ranked second amongst the highest-scoring left corners in the sixth edition. With his signature move, the diving thigh hold, Dhull managed to score 73 tackle points last season.
Baldev Singh - Puneri Paltan
Baldev Singh, the right corner defender, is set to don new colours as he represents Puneri Paltan this year. Puneri Paltan spent Rs 60 lakh on the 28-year-old player from Himachal Pradesh. With 66 tackle points, he was defending champion Bengal Warriors’ key defender last season. Baldev was among the top three players for most High 5s category with six High 5s alongside Nitesh. Puneri Paltan will look forward to making full use of Baldev’s defence this edition.
Sumit - UP Yoddha
Defending the left corner and supporting his captain Nitesh Kumar, Sumit was the find of the season seven for UP Yoddha. Bagging the New Young Player of the Season award for his performance, Sumit can give Fazel a run for his money. Finishing as the second most successful defender with 77 tackle points last season, the Indian also had the most number of High 5s in the season at seven alongside Surjeet Singh.
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