Patna Pirates are one of the most successful teams in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League with a total of three titles so far. However, the team from the Eastern Indian state of Bihar couldn’t perform as per expectations last season and finished without making it to the playoffs from Zone B.
Last season’s performance
Patna Pirates had a sensational run in the league stage of the sixth season but only till the last few days where an unexpected turn of events resulted in being giving others way. The neighbouring team UP Yoddha scripted some amazing performance to turn the tables and enter the playoffs and the Pirates, with 55 points from 22 matches, fell short by a couple of points and couldn’t manage to enter the playoffs for the first time in the tournament history.
Despite having one of the finest raiders in the history of the league in the form of their skipper Pardeep Narwal, Patna even didn’t manage a losing point in its last two games and bowed out right from the league stage in Zone B. Apart from Pardeep, they had youngster Manjeet and Deepak Narwal which ensured a good raiding unit for them. However, with the lack of experience in the defence, the team faltered a lot while going for tackles which made it difficult for them to have a proper balance in the team.
Positive takeaways from the auction
The Patna-based side under the guidance of Ram Mehar Singh went into the player auctions ahead of the seventh season with players like Pardeep Narwal, Vikas Jaglan and Jawahar Dagar already retained for this season. They have their best raider and skipper from the last two seasons with them this year as well. Although the defence didn’t do that well last year as we discussed earlier in this article, Jaglan at left cover and Dagar at the right corner were decent enough and the coach wanted to have their services in the seventh edition as well.
The best buy for Patna is that of Surender Nada, one of the greatest left corner defenders in world kabaddi. Nada had to sit out from the entire last season after getting injured while playing for Haryana Steelers in their first game. The assistant coach for Haryana last year after being ruled out of the entire season will be back on the mat this year as Patna have bought him for Rs. 77 lakh. His presence is expected to strengthen the defence which already has Jaglan and Dagar in it. They, however, bought right corner defender as well and Neeraj Kumar has been roped in for a whopping Rs 44.5 lakh which is quite surprising considering Dagar’s presence in the side from the previous season. Two foreign raiders Jang Kun Lee and Esmaeil Maghsoudlou will be in support for Pardeep as they have been picked up for 40 and 35 lakhs respectively.
This will be the first time that Lee will be playing outside Kolkata since the inception of the league. Hadi Oshtorak for 16 lakh is a good buy for Patna considering the Iranian’s ability to do both raiding and tackling effectively and the former Fortunegiant must get a look in the starting 7 straightaway. In spite of having Surender in the side, Jaideep was bought back by the team for season 7 and that too for a huge sum of 35 lakh rupees.
Threats for next season
Although the Ram Mehar Singh-coached side tried their best to bring in some good defenders into the team for the seventh season, the right-hand side of the defence still has a poor look. They have gone with Dagar and Neeraj for the corner position this year but the think tank will be in some dilemma whom to play at the right cover this year. Neeraj, who played in the fifth season for the first time, didn’t have a great run with Haryana Steelers.
Although he has attracted good price at the auctions, his past performance is not that encouraging and it remains to be seen how Ram Mehar uses both Neeraj and Dagar. The team, in another case, can go ahead with Oshtorak but they have to sit down and chalk out their plan to get the combination right during the coaching camps before the season starts regarding whom to play at the crucial right cover position.
Patna Pirates Squad
Pardeep Narwal, Vikas Jaglan, Jawahar Dagar, Mohit, Surender Nada, Neeraj Kumar, Jang Kun Lee, Mohammad Maghsoudlou, Jaideep, Hadi Oshtorak, Ravinder, Ashish, Mahendra Choudhary
SportsCafe’s starting 7
Centre – Pardeep Narwal
Left in – Jang Kun Lee
Right in – Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou
Left corner – Surender Nada
Right corner – Jawahar Dagar
Left cover – Vikash Jaglan
Right cover – Hadi Oshtorak