Seemingly every year, the Pro Kabaddi league sees the emergence of a new star that sets the mat on fire with his incredible performances.
Gujarat Fortunegiants’ Sachin Tanwar had an incredible campaign in his rookie season, leading the team to the final in Season 5. Raider Siddharth Desai broke almost every rookie raiding record in his debut season in Season 6, while Dabang Delhi K.C.’s Naveen Kumar, who also made his debut in Season 6, scored 22 Super 10s in 23 appearances in his second Pro Kabaddi campaign and became the second-youngest MVP of all-time in league history.
The Pro Kabaddi stage produces a new star every season, and below, we take a look at three players who could become the next big thing in kabaddi in Season 8:
The young raider from Maharashtra was part of the Puneri Paltan roster in Season 6 and despite being the third-choice raider behind Nitin Tomar and Manjeet, Mohite made a huge impact for his side in his debut campaign.
The raider scored 113 points in 16 matches, averaging close to seven raid points a match. He managed three Super 10s and four Super Raids in his rookie season, a tremendous return from a raider playing in a team stacked with veterans in the offence.
A sensational raiding display by Pankaj Mohite secured a victorious end to @PuneriPaltan’s 🏡 leg!— ProKabaddi (@ProKabaddi) September 21, 2019
Check out how he ruled the mat in #PUNvBLR here.
⚔ - #VIVOProKabaddi
⌚ - Every day, 7 PM
📺 - Star Sports and Hotstar#IsseToughKuchNahi pic.twitter.com/Kfq0hpNx3J
What stood out the most about Mohite was his Dubkis. The famed kabaddi move is one of the most difficult to execute on the mat, but the young raider is already pretty proficient at it, as he showcased against former champions Bengaluru Bulls. He finished that match with 17 points, the most that he has managed in a game so far in his nascent career.
In Vikash Kandola, the Haryana Steelers already possessed a mercurial raider capable of winning matches on his own, but they still needed a complimentary raider that could churn out the points to ease the burden on their superstar.
While most things went south for @HaryanaSteelers, Vinay's 3-point raid certainly put @BengalWarriors' ❤️ in their mouth!— ProKabaddi (@ProKabaddi) September 19, 2019
Relive the youngster's super raid here and keep watching #VIVOProKabaddi Season 7, LIVE on Star Sports and Hotstar! #IsseToughKuchNahi #KOLvHAR pic.twitter.com/dUOpYAfJZP
Up stepped rookie Vinay, playing the role of the sidekick to perfection and helping Haryana Steelers reach the Season 7 playoffs. The young raider scored 129 points in 23 appearances in his debut campaign, averaging close to 5.5 points per game in a team that boasted of Kandola, veterans Prashanth Kumar Rai and K. Selvamani as well as Naveen.
Vinay was a gamechanger for the Steelers. In addition to his three Super 10s, the young raider scored six Super Raids - the joint-fourth most in Season 7. Usually tasked with reviving Kandola and Rai, Vinay delivered more often than not. The Steelers’ wildcard is a talented player and has a bright future ahead in the Pro Kabaddi league.
In a team boasting of two of the nation’s greatest raiders - Ajay Thakur and Rahul Chaudhari - it would seem impossible for another raider to thrive. However, V. Ajith Kumar did just that in his rookie campaign in Season 7.
A lone bright spot for @tamilthalaivas was the local boy, Ajith notching up his first Super🔟's in #VIVOProKabaddi.— ProKabaddi (@ProKabaddi) September 2, 2019
Here's why he is the Raider of the Match in #HYDvCHE! 🙌
Watch #RivalryWeek, LIVE, on Star Sports and Hotstar.#IsseToughKuchNahi pic.twitter.com/pxsfQ0kwac
The young raider scored 121 points 19 appearances for the Tamil Thalaivas last season and made the secondary raider role his own in Thakur’s absence. 96 of his 121 points came in Tamil Thalaivas’ final 10 matches of the season, averaging 9.6 points per game, that despite sharing the raiding load with Rahul Chaudhari.
If his rookie season is anything to go by, Ajith is a superstar in the making.
Feature image courtesy: ProKabaddi.com