In a sport where raiders generally rule the roost, Iranian defender Fazel ‘Sultan’ Atrachali is in a class of his own. After making his Pro Kabaddi debut in Season 2, Atrachali has gone on to establish himself as one of the finest defenders in the game. A two-time Pro Kabaddi champion – first with U Mumba and then with Patna Pirates – Atrachali has won the Best Defender twice in the league and is third on the all-time leaderboard for most Tackle Points (317). While there are innumerable performances to choose from, here we have a look at his top five High 5 performances in Pro Kabaddi.
Gujarat Fortunegiants VS Puneri Paltan, Match 40 (PKL 5) – 9 points
The Fortunegiants enjoyed a stellar campaign in Season 5 of Pro Kabaddi. They topped Zone A after winning 15 matches while losing just four and a major reason behind their solid displays was the presence of the Iranian powerhouse Atrachali in defence. His display for Gujarat against Puneri Paltan was particularly impressive and is his highest ever points return in match. Gujarat beat Pune 35-21 as Atrachali starred by top-scoring in the match with nine Tackle Points, having succeeded in nine of his 10 tackle attempts.
Patna Pirates VS Telugu Titans, Match 53 (PKL 4) – 8 points
Season 4 was a good one for Atrachali, who became a Pro Kabaddi champion for the second time in his career having previously won the title with U Mumba in 2014. The Iranian once again played the role of a leader in defence as Pardeep Narwal wreaked havoc in offence for Patna Pirates. Atrachali’s performance in the season, though, wasn’t a memorable one since the Pirates succumbed to a 25-46 loss against Telugu Titans. The result did little to thwart Patna’s title charge and Atrachali would have taken confidence from his own performance in the match having finished with eight Tackle Points, which included two Super Tackles.
U Mumba VS Haryana Steelers, Match 130 (PKL 7) – 8 points
Back with U Mumba for Season 7, Atrachali quickly became their main man in defence and was trusted by his teammates to organize the troops. His performances for the team were often the difference between a win or a loss for them and his showing against Haryana Steelers in Greater Noida was perhaps his best display for Mumbai last season. U Mumba went on to win the match 39-33 with Atrachali leading the way in defence courtesy eight tackle points, including a Super Tackle. Besides his own points, Atrachali’s support for his teammates came to the fore in this contest with the likes of Sandeep Narwal and Young Chang Ko also shining in defence thanks to a bit of help from the Iranian.
Bengal Warriors VS Patna Pirates, Match 39 (PKL 4) – 7 points
The fourth season of Pro Kabaddi witnessed several top-class defensive displays by the Iranian and his showing against Bengal Warriors in Patna’s 33-27 win was another brilliant individual performance. Up against raiders like Monu Goyat and Jang Kun Lee, Atrachali turned out to be the difference-maker between the teams as his assured and robust defending helped Patna to a victory in a close contest. He finished the night with seven Tackle Points and executed two Super Tackles at crucial junctures to dig his team out of a hole.
Puneri Paltan VS U Mumba, Match 52 (PKL 2) – 7 points
Atrachali’s best performance in his first title-winning campaign in Pro Kabaddi with U Mumba came during a high stakes Maharashtra derby between the eventual champions that season and Puneri Paltan. Mumbai eventually went on to beat Pune 39-34 but were made to work hard for the victory. They should thank Atrachali for playing a key role in the win by being solid in defence and finishing the night with six Tackle Points to his name, which also included a Super Tackle. The Iranian also showed that he’s far from a one-trick pony when he went up the other end of the mat in the match and returned with a touchpoint.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @PatnaPirates