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 key players to watch out for -
The undisputed ruler of the mat, Pardeep Narwal will don new colours this season when he represents UP Yoddha. The side splurged a staggering 1.65 crore, make Pardeep the most expensive player in the league's history. The 24-year-old has won three titles with Patna Pirates and will be eager to lead UP Yoddha to it's first piece of silverware. Pardeep is the leading scorer in PKL's history and a total of 1169 points. He bagged 304 points last campaign.
Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
Pawan Kumar Sehrawat is the one man who can give Pardeep a run for his money. The stocky Bengaluru Bulls raider was in stunning form last season as he scored 360 points to top the scoring charts for the second season running. He burst onto the scene in season six, where he scored 282 points and won the title with the Bulls. Pawan holds the record for the most points in a match at 39 and will be crucial in Bengaluru Bulls' quest for a second title.
Siddharth Desai, dubbed the Baahubali of the kabaddi world was retained by his side Telugu Titans at this year's auction. The muscular raider has been a force to reckon with on the mat and scored 221 points last season. He was making a recovery from a shoulder injury last season and wasn't at the top of his game, but is expected to take the league by storm this time around. Siddharth has been named the team's vice-captain and will be sharing the raiding responsibilities with Rohit Kumar.
Maninder Singh played an indispensable role as he captained Bengal Warriors' to the title last season. The towering raider racked up 205 points and was instrumental alongside Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh in the Warriors' successful campaign. Maninder, however, suffered a shoulder injury in the latter stages of the tournament and was ruled out of the final. The skipper will be keen to make to make a comeback this time around and will play a crucial role in his side's title defence.
The youngest of this lot, Naveen Kumar took the league by storm last season as he became the youngest player to record a 300-raid point campaign. The agile raider also has the record for the most Super 10s in a season and most consecutive Super 10s to his name as he scored 22 Super 10s in 23 matches last season. He was one of Dabang Delhi's best players last campaign as he scored 303 points and led the side to a runner-up finish. He will share the mat with his idol Ajay Thakur this year at Dabang Delhi.
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