Has Dabang Delhi overplayed the Naveen Kumar card?
Every team has a superstar player which steals all the limelight ahead of the season. Naveen Kumar has been the talking post for Dabang Delhi after his retention and was tipped to lead the raiding unit in the 8th edition of the Pro Kabaddi League. But after singlehandedly leading the side in the first few matches, has the franchise been overdependent on the 21-year-old? We analyse how the raider has fared in this season.
How Delhi has relied on Naveen Kumar in PKL 8?
Dabang Delhi started off the season with a bang as they were unbeaten in their first seven matches Naveen Kumar’s stupendous form masked the weaknesses of the franchise. He had completed 27 consecutive super 10s and was in the form of his life until an injury derailed his momentum in the tournament. The raider’s form tumbled and wasn’t the same after that as Delhi struggled at various stages of the season. Vijay has been a great support cast for the team with 140 raid points but has lacked the quality of leading the unit. With 180 raid points in the league stage, Naveen Kumar has picked up 40% of the raid points that the franchise has accumulated this season.
Naveen missed out on the last league match for the franchise as he was rested. In his absence, Vijay, Ashu Malik and Neeraj Narwal picked up 6 points each against the Telugu Titans. It will be interesting to see whether the trio repeats the performance after the return of Naveen Kumar and against a team with a better defensive unit in the semi-final on 23rd February.
Dabang Delhi’s performances have mirrored how Naveen Kumar has been on the mat for the franchise. The Delhi-based team will be hopeful of Naveen delivering in the playoffs, although the raider has picked up just three points in the last two league matches. In the past, Patna Pirates have won the title with Pardeep Narwal leading the charge and single-handedly winning the matches for them and Dabang Delhi will hope that Naveen does the same in this edition and puts behind the agonising loss in the finale of season 7 against the Bengal Warriors.