Dabang Delhi owe their resounding success in the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi to Naveen Kumar.

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After an encouraging debut season in 2018 with Dabang Delhi, Naveen Kumar turned up the heat in the recently concluded seventh season and walked away with the ‘Most Valuable Player’ (MVP) award. It was a campaign that was highlighted by immense maturity, where he repeatedly gave it his all for the well-being of the team despite all the individual glory that he picked up on the journey.

It was the first time that Delhi found their way to the finals of Pro Kabaddi but fell short due to defensive lapses against Bengal Warriors. Delhi’s coach Krishnan Kumar Hooda played an instrumental role in nurturing the fleet-footed raider and in a post-match interview post the final, Naveen had said: “The coach’s advice and the experience of playing have helped me improve. The advice I received regarding decision-making was a big help and the faith shown on me by the staff never allowed any pressure to mount on me.”

A steady start to the season

Naveen instantly picked up from where he left off last season as he racked up a phenomenal 54 points in the first five matches, averaging close to 11 points per match. In an attempt to lure the defenders rather than attacking, Naveen applied his tactics to near perfection receiving praise from his peers. His signature moves – the running hand touch and the frog jump had only improved from the previous season as there was a certain ascent in successful raids percentage from 56.02% to 63.77% this season.

On a steady course, taking his team through any obstacle that arose, Naveen’s most iconic stint came against Puneri Paltans when he racked up 19 points in the match. His stellar 15-point performance in the semi-final against Bengaluru Bulls propelled Delhi to their first-ever final. His agility and awareness on the mat have separated him from his counterparts and the fact that he performs and delivers so consistently has etched his name as a prolific raider.  

Game of records

The 19-year-old’s laurels so far have been credited to his humbleness and hard-working attitude, but surpassing a record established by veteran raider Pardeep Narwal is nothing but extraordinary. Naveen scored a Super 10 in almost every match, taking his season tally to a total of 22 Super 10s. In doing so, he surpassed Pardeep’s record of nine consecutive Super 10’s to create a new record of 21.

What’s even more astonishing is that the young raider ended up improving his own record from the previous season. He scored 283 raid points at an average of 13.08 raid points per match.

Season

Matches

Raid Points

Super 10’s

Average Raid Points

Pro Kabaddi 6

22

172

8

7.81

Pro Kabaddi 7

23

283

22

13.08

His growth in the latter half of this season was monstrous as the young raider garnered 185 raid points in his first 15 matches and ended the season with 301 raid points, garnering 116 raid points in the final eight matches of Delhi’s campaign, with an average of almost 14.5 raid points per match.

Due to his presence, Delhi were able to find an adequate balance between offence and defence. His raw power and agility have made him an unstoppable force and given his recent outings in the league, a call for the national team is not far away.  

Read: Why Naveen Kumar is the next big thing in Pro Kabaddi?

Feature image courtesy: Star Sports & Pro Kabaddi