Pro Kabaddi auction preview – will it be form or reputation that goes under the hammer?

 

The Pro Kabaddi Season 7 auction is now only 4 days away and it’s perhaps the perfect time to look at the top picks that could be expected at this years auction…WARNING…It isn’t the big ticket names you might be expecting or are used to hearing being called the “posterboys” of Pro Kabaddi.

Last season’s auction was perhaps an eye-opener to a number of teams with the 4 newer teams, back for their second season, also in the hunt and was filled with plenty of learning too. Players were sold for large numbers with Monu Goyat, Rahul Chaudhari, Deepak Hooda, Rishank Devadiga, Nitin Tomar and Fazel Atrachali becoming crorepatis along the way. But numbers don’t lie and the numbers will tell you that these substantially higher figures on the raiders especially fell pretty flat on the teams that picked them over the 3 month long season. Not a single one of the raiders from the ‘crorepati’ club found their way in the list of the ‘Top 5 raiders’ from the season, with only the sixth place taken by an important member of the exclusive club.

Not a single one of the raiders from the ‘crorepati’ club found their way in the list of the ‘Top 5 raiders’ from the season, with only the sixth place taken by an important member of the exclusive club.

 

How much is too much – team is greater than the individual!

Coincidentally, all teams that spent over Rs. 1Cr on a player failed to make it to the playoffs of last season, perhaps a consequence of paying 30% of a team’s purse to a single player meaning rest of the team will often be under paid and likely, under balanced in terms of quality. The question is – does paying 25-30% of the purse on a single raider make sense? Perhaps teams are wiser going into the auction this time around and we might not see as many team break the bank balance over individual players, particularly raiders who are at a higher risk of breaking down over a 22 match long season.

When we asses the average COST PER POINT for each of the raiders who earned more than Rs. 1cr, we’ll see that the cost to the team far outweighed the contribution through the season and the heavy reliance on one individual added pressure on the rest of the team to carry the burden too.

Player ranking by value
Player Ranking by Value

 

The cost of injury concerns – Nitin Tomar last year, Siddharth Desai this year?

It’s fair to say that teams are getting wiser with every auction with more data, more personnel and more laptops displayed at the auction table too. But teams still do get it wrong and a lot of that comes down to instinct and knowledge of players and their status on court, together with team scouts that are sent across the nation to keep an eye on existing and emerging talent available.

We must remember that players are contracted to different teams across the country in the remaining 9 months of the year outside of the Pro Kabaddi League and their performances and fitness rates are worth monitoring too. Players in form leading up to the auction will be the pick of the bunch and that includes the likes of Pawan Sehrawat, Pardeep Narwal (both retained) Prashant Rai, Chandran Ranjit, Prapanjan, Vikas Kandola and many others. That list however MAY NOT include a certain Siddharth Desai who has played very limited tournaments since his injury last season with concerns over the knee and shoulder. Will teams go blind and still spend big on un-chartered territory? Is it wise to do so? That’s the million dollar (or 1cr) question – and it could be a costly way to find out.

In Puneri Paltan’s case last season, the decision to invest big on Nitin Tomar proved dear as the 5 star raider made an impact with 100 raid points from 11 matches but an injury then meant that Pune went on to win only three of their next eleven games, and crashed out of the season with just 8 wins from 22 matches. Pune have NOT retained Nitin this season and have the most money in the purse with an aim to reboot completely with perhaps a different strategy too. Keep an eye on them as the squad continues to get better with each season.

U Mumba, generally known to play Moneyball at the auctions found their diamond in the rough in Sid Desai last season and he was a revelation for the squad…until injury struck!

U Mumba, generally known to play Moneyball at the auctions found their diamond in the rough in Sid Desai last season and he was a revelation for the squad…until injury struck! It was then a case of Jekyl and Hyde with Sensational Sid turning into a slightly Struggling Sid turning up for the last 6 matches averaging just over 7 points per match including two difficult performances under pressure vs the UP Yodha squad that saw U Mumba get knocked out. A surgery to the shoulder since and damage to the knee with limited match practice means it could be a risk to teams looking to spend the big bucks on Big Sid, the question remains – how much is too much and are there others looking to take their turn in the spotlight?

Check-out Siddharth Desai latest performance in Interzone railway tournament:

 

Will the real “best auction picks” – please stand up!

We’ve spoke about Nitin Tomar and Sid Desai with up & then very down seasons last year but there are a few “not-so-big” names who could very well put themselves straight into the big leagues at this auction and to those of us that have followed the sport from the inside and outside of Pro Kabaddi too, this may not be much of a surprise.

No…we’re not talking about Rahul Chaudhari or Monu Goyat or Rishank Devadiga but let’s start with a certain Prashant Rai who had a standout season last year with UP Yodha and turned into their lead raider with 147 raid points in total but also incredible impact along the way.

The other top pick of the bunch might not come from the raiders but from the defence with Parvesh Bainswal not being retained alongside his mate Sunil Kumar at Gujarat Fortunegiants. Gujarat do hold the Final Bid Match (FBM) card but given that all teams know how desperately Gujarat would want to keep him, the 11 other teams could make him an expensive proposition to be retained but also could be an asset to any team given the lack of quality Left Cover defenders in the business.

The same goes for Bengaluru Bulls defender, Mahender Singh who was instrumental in the Bulls being crowned Champions and was outstanding last season, but has be let out to the wolves in the auction this time around and could prove to be a VERY expensive retention for the Bulls’ title winning squad who have already retained Pawan Sehrawat and Rohit Kumar at a pretty hefty price-tag too.

From the South, let’s head West to Pune who have decided to re-boot which means that their left-corner Captain, Girish Ernak and right-corner Beast, Sandeep Narwal have emerged in the free market and it could be a real tussle for their services. Anup Kumar, the new coach of Pune is a master tactician and will have plans of his own but time will tell whether those plans include going after these two former Paltans…and at what price too?

From the West to the North and to the Dabang Delhi squad who have retained Meraj Sheykh, Naveen and Joginder but will really have to battle to get the services of Chandran Ranjit back in their line-up. He was one of the stand-outs in the squad and while he may not secure the big money that we might see for the likes of a few others, expect several teams to be raising their paddles as this man’s name comes up on the 8th of April.

Who would have thought that the likes of Rahul Chaudhari could be underdog picks at a Pro Kabaddi auction but that might just be the case for teams to attempt to swoop him up. The Telugu Titans have retained 3 Iranians in their line-up and a little birdy tells us they could have U Mumba’s Iranian Coach too, so does Rahul Chaudhari fit into the scheme of things or could we see the original poster-boy in different colours for the first time in the history of the league??

Plenty of questions remain, plenty of money remains to be spent…we’ll have all the answers on the 8th and 9th of April but what’s certain is that it’s bound to be a spell-binding auction as the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come together again for the 12 teams in action ahead of the next season of Pro Kabaddi scheduled to kick off in July, 2019!