Has Pardeep Narwal gone over the hill?
Pardeep Narwal, the highest paid player in the Pro Kabaddi League, is having an underwhelming PKL 8 so far. Pardeep was bought by the UP Yoddha for a staggering 1.65 crore in last year's auction, and so far, has only managed to score at an average of 7 points per match for the team, which is quite ordinary going by the standards. It is a considerable dip if it's compared with his performance from season 2 to season 8, where the average was around the range of 11-13 points per match. The ''dubki king'' hasn't been in the best of form this season, but would it be fair to rule out Pardeep considering this season's performance?
Pardeep Narwal is a small town boy who grew up in Rindhana. Pardeep found his passion in Kabaddi at a very young age, playing the game at junior level and also was a part of Haryana Kabaddi Academy, where he learned all the basics of Kabaddi. The player got his maiden opportunity in the Pro Kabaddi League when he represented Bengaluru Bulls in the Season 2. He joined Patna Pirates in season 3 and had a dream run for the team, clinching new records and also winning consecutive titles with them.
Pardeep hasn’t enjoyed the same success with UP Yoddha this time around. The ankle injury that the raider suffered in the current season has resulted in a slight dip of form for him. To go along with this, Pardeep has also spent a considerable amount of time on the bench too, averaging around 16 minutes this season.
UP Yoddha have adopted a different approach this time, wherein coach Jasveer Singh is making sure to share the raiding responsibility among multiple players. Pardeep has been in a different role for UP this season, with players like Surender Gill and Shrikant Jadhav also sharing the responsibility of the raiding department this time around. Surender has been the most successful raider for UP this season, amassing 184 points from the 20 matches he played so far.
Important thing to note here is that this is quite unlike the role Pardeep played for the Patna Pirates in the previous seasons. In his previous season with Patna Pirates, as the main raider, Pardeep was the standout performer and scored 304 points. Pardeep went for over 50% of his team’s raids, delivering under ‘burden’. Today however Pardeep needs to shoulder the burden of being the most expensive player in PKL8.
It is essential to understand that with Pardeep coming out of a 2-year break, the raider hasn't competed with superior teams in domestic competitions that often while playing for Income Tax. Other raiders like Pawan Sehrawat represent Railways and the young Naveen Kumar represents Services - both Railways and Services are routinely playing inter-railways and inter-services tournaments keeping their players in top shape. Thus it is likely that Pardeep Narwal did not get the ideal preparation required to play in a tournament like Pro Kabaddi League.
Pardeep could still play an important part in the team's campaign, bringing in the much-needed experience to the unit. Pardeep is currently 25 years old, has age by his side and also has great set of skills in his armour.
UP Yoddha are currently placed at 3rd position, and would be keen to end up inside the top 6 to qualify for the playoffs. And for that to happen, the team would surely be expecting their marquee player to put up some spectacular performances in the remaining games of the league.