PKL Season 7 Zone A Complete Squads and auction review
After two days of toil, iterating on strategies, and intense bidding the franchises have build their squads from the auction pool, and would have taken their flight back home. There would be a couple of additions to the squad from outside the auction pool (i.e the new young players pool), but the core of the team is going from this two day affair.
Unlike, the IPL auction, this pool of players has a heavy reliance on elite players whose supply is constrained. The young players have limited/no data - and teams do not want to bank on this information asymmetry unless absolutely sure. Given this situation in this auction, we can see that most franchises have spent wisely on experience players and young talent. So, here is the assessment of how teams fared at auction and what how they need to get ready to fight it out on the mat in Season 7.
Puneri Paltan looking to roar with improved raiding and solid defenders
- Squad: Nitin Tomar, Pawan Kadian, Manjeet, Girish Ernak, Surjeet Singh, Ernad Sedeghat, Darshan Kadian, Haji Tajik, Satpal, Amit, Sandeep, Shubham, Deepak Yadav, Amit Kumar, Jadhav Shahji
- Historical Performance: Season 5 had been the best season for pune, which let them to retain most of its players, but season 6 was a season filled with injuries, niggles and poor show defensively. The main reason for this poor show has predominantly been failure of raiding.
- Assessment of defense: Defensively Pune has quality backup for its both corners; Satpal would be playing the right corner but in case hell breaks loose for them, this corner can be managed by Nitin and Surjeet; The right cover is manned by Surjeet, who is also the possibly captain for the team; Left corner has Girish, who can be backed by Sagar B, but when the inexperienced left cover has a off day, Girish can man this position. This defense will work on 7 out of 10 days unless both Surjeet and Girish both have a horrible day.
- Assessment of Raiding: Pune's trump card last time was Nitin Tomar, who had a happy home coming in the first 11 games, but later bowed out of the tournament due to an injury. But in 90% of these the games played, he was the lone shining star. He was thus the most utilized player and prone to injury; This year, the management has addressed it by replacing More GB with Manjeet; Rajesh Mondal with two skillful raiders (Darshan, Pawan Kadiyan). The raiding also looks balanced with left and right raiders
- Interesting players to watch out for: Pune would expect Shubam Shinde ankle holds and Darshan Kadiyan burst raids to come good.
- Priority: Both Surjeet and Girish have to do the bulk of tackles in this team, so getting this defense to work around these two would be first task for the head coach Anup Kumar.
U Mumba missed a trick in picking raiders but fortified its corners with big names
- Squad: Fazal, Sandeep Narwal, Dong Geon Lee, Rohit Baliyan, Abhishek Singh, Arjun Deshwal, Rajguru, Surinder, Mohit B, Anil, Gaurav K, Young Chang Ko, Ajinkya Kapre, Vinoth Kumar, Harinder Kumar
- Historical Performance: Season 5 they were unlucky in the auctions, but they got this correct in season 6. Everyone who followed kabaddi last year would have expected U Mumba to play Gujarat in finals and win it. The top three reasons were clearly a) Collective wisdom of Fazal and Anna, b) Great season for young surender in right cover and c) Moneyball Pick Sidharth Desai
- Assessment of Defense: UM has replaced the experience of Anna with brute force of 'the beast' sandeep narwal. They have a good young cover in surender and the league's best left corner (who is the only defender to have positive net points) The left cover will be managed by Raj Guru and backed by Young Chang Ko. Overall this defense looks threatening but if Sandeep has an off day, Fazal is sent out on the mat by Right raiders, this defense may start to crumble. This is where forgoing anna (who could play multiple positions) for sandeep has affected the balance of this team defensively and also in raiding.
- Assessment of Raiders: U Mumba believes Arjun Deshwal is the new sensation, who could fit in the shoes of Sid Desai. In case he fails, Abhishek Singh would be the natural choice, but is this a big punt? Paying big bucks to Sandeep and Fazal affected how they could shop for raiders. This has weakened their raiding considerably. However, they have a utility raider in Dong Geon Lee (who replaces Abofazal) and Rohit Baliyan who gets his second season with the franchise.
- Interesting players to watch out for: UM with this defense would love to play every game on dod. The role of raiders thus becomes critical, sandeep role as a raider, Arjun Deshwal ability to score points consistently would be the need of hour for this team.
- Priority: Who is the raider who can go for 300+ raids and score over 170 points for them? Sandeep has not impressed with his raiding? These are a few areas to be addressed in the coaching camp
Jaipur Pink Panthers on paper looks like a balanced unit, but will they function as one unit?
- Squad: Deepak Niwas Hooda, Amit Hooda, Nitin Rawal, Deepak Narwal, Sandeep Dhull, Sunil Siddhgavali, Nilesh Salunkhe, Ajinkya Pawar, Santhapal, Gurman Singh, Lokesh Kaushik, Dong Gyu Kim, Sachin Narwal, Sushil, Vishal, Karamvir, Milinda Chaturanga, Pavan
- Historical Performance: Last year Jaipur had a start similar to the current RCB squad, loosing quiet a few games upfront. The management however picked up the positives from the last season and retained a) an outstanding player in Deepak Niwas Hooda (a bit pricey, but okay considering his ability to last the complete four months), b) Junior Nada - Sandeep Dhull c) Their New young player in Nitin Rawal and d) their lone shining star in Ajinkya Pawar - so entering the auction, they had a squad and knew exactly what to do
- Assessment of Raiders: Deepak Niwas Hooda can consistently score 5-6 points in a game, but his ability to score in crunch moments is a bit low- this is where the support raiders have a role to play; If deepak narwal can look beyond bonuses as his top skill to score points and if Nilesh can score a good 3-4 points in cruch, this team can be the strongest raiding team in this zone. Obviously, once Pawar and Nitin Rawal too chip in - they may be no looking back
- Assessment of Defense: Amit Hooda was the original right corner for this team in season 4, he comes back this season. Hooda and Dhull are the main stay corner - with backups in Santapanaselvam and Nitin, They have a reasonable right cover in Sunil Siddhgavali but their left cover is has to be filled with a new player, in case this position fails for them, the role of DNH becomes critical, he can hold fort in the left cover, but that means, he will have to sacrifice his raiding a bit. This is where his temperament as team player would come to test.
- Interesting players to watch out for: Can Sandeep dhull and Amit hooda are the anchors for this defense, can both of them give the JPP fans a season to remember? Nitin Rawal is also coming back after an injury, will this be coming of age for this new young player?
- Priority: DNH should train himself to play the left cover well, Both Nilesh and Deepak Narwal should hone their raiding skills to score touch points (a skill which they both failed to display last season playing for their respective franchises)
Dabang Delhi looks complete by plugging the holes in its defense and getting their three raiders back
- Squad: Chandran Ranjit, Naveen Kumar, Meeraj, Ravinder pahal, Joginder N, Vishal Mane, Vijay, Saeed Ghaffari, Aman Kadian, Sumit K, Pratik Patel, Anil Kumar, Sombir, Satyawan, Neeraj Narwal
- Historical Performance: Delhi has had horrible season finishes, but last year was good - where they raced through the qualification due to an outstanding home leg and upsetting teams like Gujarat. Not one this was a moral boost but the team had a perfect blend of young and youth which worked for them. This year - they have struck to the same formula. Went into the auction - and picked the same team. Couple of interesting strategy choices for them have been replacing Rajesh Narwal with Vijay (an outstanding utility player in crunch situations) and getting a backup for Pehal in Sombir. The Iranaian, Saeed Ghaffari is an useful left cover in case Vishal Mane has an off day
- Assessment of Raiders: Delhi did not need more than three raiders in the last season, Chandran Ranjit spring in raiding, Naveen's ability to find holes in defense, Meeraj's struggle to safety was good enough that lasted them over 22 games. However, they had a crucial backup in Pawan Kadiyan who is not in the squad. Chandran Ranjit was also not seen after the season in any of the local tournaments, which raises a doubt on his fitness, so who will be the young player who can fit his shoes, delhi will have to find an answer for this.
- Assessment of Defense: Defensively delhi as a unit has worked last season, additionally this season they have bolstered it. The ability of Ghaffari and Sombir to show up in short notice and deliver will be very handy, Vijay cheekiness while defending will be very handy as well.
- Interesting players to watch out for: Without any doubt, Saeed Ghaffari will have a important role to play in this team, considering the long season. Will he make his country and team proud?
- Priority: Delhi has to find options for raiding in case Ranjit fails, so, their first task is cut out - get the next young raider and make him a super star.
Gujarat Fortune Giants for a change, does not look threatening, but could still qualify
- Squad: Sachin, Abolfazl Maghsoudlou, Ruturaj Singh, Sunil, Parvesh, More GB, Gurvinder Singh, Rohit Gulia, Vinod Kumar, Lalit C, Md. shazid hosaain, Pankaj, Amit, Sonu Gahlawat, Abhishek, Sonu
- Historical Performance: Gujarat has ruled this format every since it has started, if anything this franchise can be compared to the likes of CSK in IPL. Runners up twice - this auctions, gujarat had two things to do, get Parvesh at reasonable value and pick a good support raider for sachin; this was the only formula to win the tournament.
- Assessment of Raiders: Gujarat had Rohit Gulia, Ajay, Prapanjan, Mahender Ganesh Rajput and Dong Geon Lee last season - who could play with Sachin. Gujarat raiding not only looked good, but it was tough for teams to plan against this army of raiders. This year, they have replaced Dong Geon with Abofazal and retained Rohit. However, they were unlucky in the auction and only managed to get GB more as a replacement for Ajay, Prapanjan and Mahender Ganesh Rajput. Obviously, UM's x-factor Vinoth Kumar joins Gujarat this season, but his presence (along with GB more) cannot fill in this void left by MGR, Prapanjan and Ajay
- Assessment of Defense: Gujarat has managed to reunite Parvesh with his cousin Sunil, So this season too, they will demonstrate new skills to delight aspiring young defenders. In doing this, the management has got back Rituraj who was their main right cover and got Pankaj - UP young left corner to replace Sachin Vittala. Manpreet and Neer Singh Gulia, the two coaches for Gujarat can make this defense work and go for the kill.
- Interesting players to watch out for: All eyes would be on Parvesh, Gurvinder Singh and More GB, these players should fill the void left by Prapanjan and Ajay - thus ensuring a good support to sachin; their lead raider
- Priority: Getting More GB to handle tough situations and deliver will be number one priority for the team
Haryana Steelers young defense will look good this season
- Squad: Prashant Kumar Rai, Vikas Khandola, Selvamani, Dharamraj C, Sunil, Ravi Kumar, Naveen, Kuldeep Singh, Vikas Kale,Parveen, Arun, Vinay, Amir Hossein, Phonchoo Tin, Vikram Khandola, Subhash Narwal.
- Historical Performance: Haryana has been the main source of kabaddi talent, this year we had around 28% representation of players from Haryana in the auction pool. Thus, the NYPs in this team have a real potential to perform on the big stage. In the last season, haryana failed because its lead raider, Monu Goyat could not match value to his price tag, this year, they corrected it by managing their spend wisely.
- Assessment of Raiders: Monu Goyat, has been replaced with Prasanth Kumar Rai, both Prasanth and Vikash would do the bulk of raiding while Selvamani and Naveen could chip in during key situations. Their raiding looks balanced and can score 15-20 points every game against any defense.
- Assessment of Defense: The defense has to be pivot around Dharamraj C (Anna), with sunil and kuldeep managing the corners. Ravi is not a great cover, but in super tackle situations he can create havoc; his combination with Anna in Season 5 was also a success. The left cover option in Vikram Khandola is a very interesting choice. Vikas Kale was horrible for Patna last season, but he may have break out season under Anna (his story might be similar to Surinder, the right cover of UM)
- Interesting players to watch out for: Sunil has to play his top game for the defense to hold well, but the key player would their Left cover in Vikram Khandola (or a new player)
- Priority: The management should make anna the captain and get him to groom the youngsters well; also starting the camp at the earliest would help this teams cause.