The 67th edition of the Senior National Kabaddi Championships took place from the 2nd of March till the 6th of March in Jaipur. The five-day Kabaddi extravaganza saw the Indian Railways’ Men's and Women's teams clinching the title and being the undefeated champions of the tournament.
With the Pro Kabaddi season approaching, the Senior National Kabaddi Championship was like a testing ground for the players, with plenty of PKL scouts watching, as well an opportunity for the teams to look for their future teams. Although the dates of the PKL have not been announced yet, this was probably one of the last major tournaments where the players would get a chance to showcase their talent before the PKL auction.
Here are our five picks that might get a bigger contract in the next PKL auction:
The all-rounder from Bihar was one of the most impressive players at the tournament. He finished as the second-highest raid points scorer of the tournament behind Naveen Kumar of the Services. Starting the tournament with eight points in the opening encounter against Andhra Pradesh, Naveen went on to score a Super 10 in each of the next four matches that he played.
Naveen scored 10, 18, 13 and 13 points against Chandigarh, Telangana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh respectively. He was the top performer for the Bihar team and grabbed some attention from everyone at the tournament. Naveen played with the Haryana Steelers in Pro Kabaddi 2019 and was bought by the team for a sum of Rs. 33.50 lakh. His bidding started with a base price of Rs. 20 lakh and saw Gujarat Fortune Giants and the Steelers fighting hard for the player.
With his top-notch performance at the Senior Nationals, Naveen surely looks to be a prize catch for any franchise that will have him. The bidding war for the youngster could very well go a little longer and little higher than what it was at the last auction.
Vijay played a major role in Chandigarh's campaign at the Senior National Championships in Jaipur. One of the top raiders of the tournament, he single-handedly took Chandigarh to win in most of their matches. His raiding effort of 22 points helped the Chandigarh team register their first win in the league stage against Telangana. This was followed by 12 points against Andhra Pradesh and 15 points against Bihar. Three consecutive Super 10s put him in the league of the top raiders of the tournament like Pawan Sehrawat and Naveen Kumar, as Vijay finished the tournament with 52 raid points from 99 raids in four matches.
While he has not played in the Pro Kabaddi League yet, this young boy from Chandigarh will be on the list of most teams come the auction.
Services saw strong support from Sandeep Khandola in the defense department in Jaipur. An ex Telugu Titans player, Sandeep finished as the tournament's second-highest tackle points scorer with 27 points from seven matches. He was most impressive in the knockout matches as he went on to pick up a High 5 in the last three matches.
Starting with a slower pace in the league matches, Sandeep played a vital role in Services’ run to the finals. He did not flinch even a bit while going for the famed raiders and was successful in holding them back on his side of the mat. Players like Rahul Chaudhary, Abhishek Singh, Sukesh Hedge, and Prashanth Kumar Rai could be seen having a hard time as they went up against Sandeep on the mat.
Sandeep has not played for any PKL franchise after Season 2 where he scored 59 points from 16 matches. With his performance in the Senior Nationals this year, it could very well be the season where he could receive a call back into the auction list.
The home team of Rajasthan made it to the semifinals of the tournament before being defeated by the Services squad. One of the key members of the team was Raju Lal Choudhary. A seasoned player, Choudhary played a major part in what was a successful campaign for the Rajasthan team. He scored 20 tackle points, which included three High 5s against Uttaranchal, Kerala (Court Direction) and Maharashtra. He looked as if he was playing his best Kabaddi in the tournament and also led the team successfully to the semifinals.
Choudhary has been a part of the Pro Kabaddi League since the first season, except in PKL Season 4. He was bought by the Bengaluru Bulls for Rs. 10 lakh in the PKL 2019 auction, but his heroic performance at the Senior Nationals could mean a bigger contract for the player in the future.
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