Singh is King | Maninder's Dominance from PKL1 to PKL8
Maninder Singh is probably the most consistent raider in Pro Kabaddi. And if I may borrow Suhail Chandhok's phrase, "He is the beast from the east in PKL8".
Maninder's Path to PKL
Back in 2014, 24-year-old Maninder Singh was playing for Punjab Police in the tournament in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier that year, a new Kabaddi league was announced called Pro Kabaddi League and young Mani was feeling crushed that not a single player from Punjab Police made the cut.
As the tournament progressed, Punjab Police overcame a team with 7 players, all of whom were a part of PKL franchisees. The next day, Punjab Police won the tournament. Sure enough, a week later Mani got a call from Jaipur Pink Panthers asking him to come for trials. That one call changed Mani's life, the young man whose raiding blitzkrieg took Jaipur Pink Panthers to their first and only (until 2021) PKL championship.
Maninder's Supremacy in PKL
Mani scored 130 raid points in just 175 raids at a strike rate of 75%. Mani ended up missing 3 years and 4 seasons of PKL after the success in PKL1. He struggled with an almost career ending knee injury. The game had since changed. Kabaddi has become a household sport and many young players like Pardeep Narwal, Pawan Sehrawat and defenders like Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal were making a name for themselves.
And just like that in Pro kabaddi auctions season 5, when 4 new teams were introduced, a player with no photo or data, without identity came up on the auction screen. And yet, while some teams discussed if it was the 'same Maninder from PKL1', Bengal Warriors took a chance and won the bid for Mani at 45.5 Lakhs. The Bengal Warriors management was not sure if they had indeed lapped up Mani, but they desperately needed a raider and Mani was all they got! Now that is a bet that has paid off - both for the franchisee and for Mani.
What sets apart Mani from other raiders is one, he is consistent when he is on the mat. His strike has been consistently hovering around the 65% mark over 7 years of Pro Kabaddi. No other raider including the likes of Anup Kumar, Pardeep Narwal and Pawan Sehrawat have this feather in their caps.
He held the record of being the fastest raider in the league to score 500 raid points, achieving the feat in 56 matches. This is before Naveen Kumar broke the record to 500 points in 47 matches. Mani has joined the 800 point club that includes Pardeep Narwal, Pawan Sehrawat, Rahul Chaudhary and Kashiling Adake. His longevity and consistency across 8 seasons of PKL is simply astonishing. In PKL8, he continues to score at over 12 raid points in a match leading the raiding for the Warriors.
Mani is 31 years old and has a few good years left in him. He has already led his teams to two Pro Kabaddi Championships. PKL8 is likely to witness Maninder Singh hit the 1000 point milestone.