Completing a hat-trick of championships from 2016 to 2017, Pardeep Narwal has been spearheading the attack for Patna Pirates for as long as one can remember. As a result, the two have synonymously grown together over the years, with the Pirates of late putting all its power behind making sure that their beloved raider is happy and doesn’t move to any other team.
Despite additions like Jang Kun Lee, Mohammad Maghsoudlou and Surender Nada to the team in the ongoing season, Pardeep has still shouldered the burden in the seventh season. The main crux of signing Lee was to ease the pressure on Pardeep, but the South Korean has hardly been in the same league as Pardeep.
One man show
Pardeep’s record-breaking numbers can dampen the spirit of any defence, as the 22-year-old became the only player in the history of Pro Kabaddi to cross the 1100-point mark. His numbers are mind-boggling, and his average of 12.76 raids per match has only improved from his previous season’s endeavours. Currently sitting on 268 points in 21 encounters, Pardeep’s exploits are hard to get a hold of.
On the other hand, the second-best raider for Patna this season has been South Korean Lee, who is way down on the list of total points earned (55), almost a fifth of what Pardeep has managed so far. Interestingly, the third-highest scorer for Patna is a defender named Neeraj Kumar, who has 54 points from 21 matches.
For a three-time champion like Patna, having one player bearing the brunt of the opposing defenders while the others pick up a couple of points hasn’t boded well. The quiet aggression that Pardeep possesses and utilises on the mat has been missing from the rest of Patna’s squad.
The thing that separates Pardeep from the rest is his consistency. In a recent encounter with Gujarat Fortunegiants, the star raider racked up 17 points out of the 39 scored by his team, which almost accounts for 44% of Patna’s score. This was one of the many instances that Pardeep led the charge for his team and this kind of overreliance was exposed yet again.
In the post-match conference, the supremely confident raider was asked about his conquest against Gujarat and his team being entirely dependent on him, to which he modestly replied, “I don’t believe that is the case. The defence came up big in the closing stages of the match and that is the only reason we won today. Lee's touch point kickstarted that spell for us right at the end. So, it was a team effort today.”
No matter how long he disallows the notion that he is an indispensable part of Patna, sooner or later, the owners of Patna will realise that it might need a couple more shoulders to carry the weight of three-time champions.
Feature image courtesy: Star Sports & Pro Kabaddi