One of the biggest absentees in Pro Kabaddi Season 8 will be that of Meraj Sheykh, who wasn’t even a part of the three-day long auction. His omission comes as a big surprise to many since it wasn’t too long ago that he was hailed as one of the most successful all-rounders in the league.
Meraj Sheykh, in fact, was one of the first few overseas players to make a mark in the Pro Kabaddi League. The Iranian played for Telugu Titans in Season 2 and soon went on to become the first overseas player to captain a PKL side. The Season 4 auction saw Meraj find a new home in Pro Kabaddi.
After donning the yellow jersey of Telugu Titans for two seasons, Meraj Sheykh was picked by Dabang Delhi K.C. for INR 19 lakh in the Season 4 auction. One of the more popular exponents of the innovative Scorpion Kick in kabaddi, he had fruitful outings with the Delhi side and emerged as one of the top all-rounders in Season 5, scoring 104 points.
Meraj was even hailed as a do-or-die raid specialist in the Delhi setup for his guile, agility and ability to perform under pressure on the mat. However, despite a good start to his PKL career, Meraj couldn’t maintain the standards of his performances like compatriot Fazel Atrachali.
His form from Season 6 to 7, in particular, saw a significant dip as he struggled to have an impact and eventually found himself struggling to get into the team. The Asian Games silver medallist could garner just 42 points across 17 games in Season 7 having managed 97 points in the previous campaign, which led to him losing his regular starting spot in the team for Dabang Delhi K.C.
That said, one would still have expected Meraj to be a part of the Season 8 auctions, at the very least. But much to the surprise of many, his name was entirely missing from the second day of the Pro Kabaddi 2021 auctions, which featured players in the overseas category. While there are no reports to suggest the reason behind the all-rounder’s absence from Season 8, here are some possibilities.
Why was Meraj Sheykh missing from Pro Kabaddi Season 8 auctions?
Here are the possible theories:
Injury or fitness issues - One reason why the Iranian all-rounder may have skipped the Season 8 auction could be a recovery from a prolonged injury or other fitness issues that might have aggravated the problem and be an even bigger setback to his career.
Struggles with form - Hailed as the most successful all-rounder in Season 5, Meraj’s dip in form ever since saw his total raid points fall from 94 to 41 while his tackle points also took a hit. Needless to say, his performances in the last couple of seasons could have played a role in his absence.
Uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 - Another reason for Meraj Sheykh to skip PKL could be bio-bubble fatigue, which athletes from various sports have spoken of. COVID-19 protocols over the course of a three-month season come with their own challenges and it is understandable if players opt against participation because of it.
Featured Photo: Dabang Delhi K.C. / Twitter