Top 5 Kabaddi players retained by their franchises ahead of PKL 9 auction

Naveen Kumar helped Dabang Delhi clinch their maiden PKL title last season

The auction for Pro Kabaddi League Season 9 is set to take place on August 4 and August 5. The 12 PKL franchises will jostle with each other to grab the mega stars of the kabaddi world in an attempt to strengthen their side. However, certain players will not take part in the auction as their previous franchises retained them.

Qualifying for the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, Puneri Paltan retained ten of their players from the previous season. Although Telugu Titans finished at the bottom of the pile, they decided to keep five players from the previous roster in an attempt to finish at the top half of the table. 

Tamil Thalaivas and U Mumba have made only one retention to their squad this season. So one can expect a new look team from both of them after the PKL 9 auction. 

#5 Naveen Kumar – Dabang Delhi

After coming agonizingly close in season 7, Naveen Kumar helped Dabang Delhi complete their ambitions of lifting the PKL title in season 8. The 22-year-old was their lead raider and accumulated 207 raid points from 17 encounters.

In the absence of Naveen, Delhi lost by a whopping margin of 39 points to Bengaluru last season as other raiders were clueless while surging forward. The season champions lost only six times in the group stages, with Naveen being sidelined due to injury in three of those games.

Delhi knows that they are overdependent on Naveen and didn’t want to take a risk by putting him up for the auction. Now, the baton has been passed to Naveen to live up to his expectations.  

#4 Maninder Singh – Bengal Warriors

Maninder Singh will once again don the Bengal Warriors jersey

Maninder Singh will once again don the Bengal Warriors jersey

Despite not qualifying for the playoffs in PKL 8, Bengal Warriors wasted no chance in retaining their star raider Maninder Singh for the upcoming season. Bulldozing his way through the opposition defenders, the bulky Maninder notched up 264 raid points from 22 games.

Maninder amassed the third highest raid points last season amongst all the teams, with Mohammad Nabibakhsh being the next Bengal raider in line with 89 points from 20 matches. Needless to say, Bengal is over-reliant on Maninder just like Delhi is heavily dependent on Naveen. 

Bengal needs to strengthen their defense while splashing their cash on a secondary raider in the auction to support Maninder upfront. However, all their plans will go awry if Maninder goes out of form next season. 

#3 Arjun Deshwal – Jaipur Pink Panthers

Jaipur Pink Panthers narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season by finishing eighth in the points table. However, one raider who rose up to the occasion was Arjun Deshwal.

Relegating Deepak Niwas Hooda to the position of a secondary raider, Deshwal collected 267 raid points from 22 matches while the former bagged only 117 raid points from 17 games. Having justified his 96 lakhs price tag, Jaipur retained him for the coming season as an ‘Elite Player.’

Deshwal had 16 Super 10’s to his name in only his second PKL season and was undoubtedly one of the most improved players of the tournament. A surprise package last year, Deshwal will have heavy expectations this time to reclaim Jaipur’s glory days.

#2 Surender Gill – UP Yoddha

Surender Gill was UP Yoddha’s lead raider last season

Surender Gill was UP Yoddha’s lead raider last season

Like Arjun Deshwal, PKL 8 was Surender Gill’s second season in PKL history and the raider finished with the fifth most number of raid points. Bagging 189 raid points from 23 matches, Gill combined well with Pardeep Narwal who had 188 raid points from 24 matches.

Gill also helped the team in defense by picking up 9 tackle points, which included 2 Super Tackles. While UP Yoddha decided to release Narwal for the auction, they opted to retain Gill as a ‘Young Player.’

Gill will have heavy expectations riding on his shoulders this season. While Narwal was out there to help him out last season, he may not be present this time. In that case, Gill will have to do the heavy lifting all alone.

#1 Mohammadreza Shadloui – Patna Pirates

Discovered at the 2019 Junior Kabaddi World Cup, Mohammadreza Shadloui was Patna’s go-to man in the defense. Ending PKL 8 with the most number of tackle points, Shadloui picked up 89 points from 24 matches.

With 10 High 5’s last season, Shadloui struck terror in the hearts of the raiders with his vicious ankle holds. Shadloui was also elemental in helping Patna fight back from losing situations as his 3 Super Tackles prevented the Pirates from getting All Out.While other top teams relied on their raiding prowess, Patna banked on their defensive solidity. Shadloui’s reflexes took them all the way to the final where they fell short by just one point.