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PKL 2019 | Studs and duds from Pune leg ft. V Ajith Kumar, Joginder Narwal and Tamil Thalaivas defence

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PKL 2019 | Studs and duds from Pune leg ft. V Ajith Kumar, Joginder Narwal and Tamil Thalaivas defence

The Pune leg of the seventh edition in the Pro Kabaddi League has come to an end and we saw some breathtaking action on the mat. Youngsters like Pankaj Mohite, Neeraj Kumar and V Ajith Kumar shone for their respective teams while many seniors failed to play as per their big names in Pune. 


Pankaj Mohite

The home leg for the Paltan and it was the local Maharashtra lad Pankaj Mohite who starred for them in the raiding unit. A find of the Khelo India Games, Mohite ruled the court whenever needed as the Paltan registered two wins and a tie out of their four games at home. The most impressive show by Mohite came against defending champions Bengaluru Bulls on Friday where he ended up with a total of 17 raid points. In a game in which there were players like Rohit Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat in the opposition team, the young lad was the best raider of the match. Mohite scored 35 points in the four games that he played at his home venue and played an important role in the team’s raiding department. 

V Ajith Kumar

Another find from the Khelo India Games, V Ajith Kumar had shown what he can do during the Bengaluru leg and he took that to a difference level at Balewadi. The Tamil Nadu boy starred in the team’s raiding department in both the games that they played in Pune. After collecting nine points against Haryana Steelers which the Thalaivas lost 35-43, Ajith upped his game in the next game against the home team and scored a total of 18 points from 19 raids which resulted in a tie. Amidst all the negativities surrounding the Chennai-based club, Ajith has been a shining star for them and their new coach J Uday Kumar will have a lot of hopes from the young lad to lift the spirit of the team in the remaining games of the season.

Neeraj Kumar

You just can’t ignore a player who scored 11 tackle points in a single game irrespective of what he has done in the other game. This has been Neeraj Kumar’s story in the league so far. Playing at the right cover position with someone like Hadi Oshtorak at the corner position, Neeraj’s performance has seen both the ends of the spectrum. The story was no different in Pune as well. After scoring 11 tackle points and helping Patna register a huge 55-33 win against the home team, he failed miserably in the previous encounter against Telugu Titans. He was one of the main culprits in the defence with as many as five unsuccessful tackle attempts and only one point in the entire game. It was the defensive failure for the three-time champions that led to the tie against the Titans. But, if we talk about that one evening against Puneri Paltan where Neeraj was at the top of the game, we are bound to take the player as a stud as the young lad was much better than many big names against Pune where he scored 11 points.

 © PKL


Joginder Narwal

Joginder Narwal’s experience and captaincy has been the driving force in Delhi’s success this season but the 37-year-old had a rough patch in Pune where he failed to perform well at the left corner position on the Delhi mat. With Ravinder Pahal and Vishal Mane doing a decent job in the defence and off course the team being at the top of the table, one thing they need is some good show by the skipper at the crucial position. In the two games in Pune, the veteran scored in only four games. Things looked pathetic in the game against the Titans as he managed to score only one tackle point and looked lacklustre at the left corner. He also went for a few unnecessary attempts and five unsuccessful tackles in that game is a testimony to the fact that how poor a game the skipper had that evening. Although his performance was a bit good against Gujarat Fortunegiants where he got three points in the defence, he still had three unsuccessful attempts. If Delhi has to do well in the playoffs then Joginder needs to get back to his rhythm soon as the corner combination of Joginder and Pahal is the main weapon for Delhi as far as their experience is concerned. 

Girish Ernak

When Puneri Paltan were done with their auctions ahead of this season, they had two very important players from their last year’s squad and they are Nitin Tomar and Girish Ernak. However, in the tournament so far, Tomar has struggled with injuries while Ernak has struggled to get his form back. He has no specific position at the left side of the mat and has mostly played at the left corner position. In the home leg as well, the Maharashtra defender had a terrible run and even didn’t find a place in their last home game against Bengaluru Bulls in which Sagar Krishna managed to score a high 5 playing in his place. In the three games in Pune, Ernak has scored seven points. The home leg was a phase where Pune’s defence showed some good performance on the mat but for Ernak, it was all the same. He had an enormous number of unsuccessful tackles and his rash tackle attempts affected the team big time in the entire home leg. In the matches against Patna, Gujarat and Tamil, he had four, four and six unsuccessful attempts. His poor run is something which must be hurting the Paltan as others like Surjeet, Manjeet, Pankaj Mohite, and Nitin Tomar have shown signs of improvement in the home leg and Ernak remains the only player to be effective otherwise he might be permanently replaced with Sagar Krishna at the left corner position.

Tamil Thalaivas’ experienced defence 

With almost all the reputed raiders performing well in the Pune leg, the list of duds will include only defenders for me. Tamil Thalaivas have a very experienced line-up with players like Rahul Chaudhari and Ajay Thakur but it is not only about their raiders, the defence has top names like Manjeet Chhillar, Mohit Chhillar and Ran Singh. The trio has struggled big time in the season and that is the major cause of concern for the Tamil management. Manjeet had started well in the first few games at the left cover position this year but in last few legs, his performance has suddenly gone down. In the two matches in Pune, Manjeet scored only two points. In the game against the Paltan, both Manjeet and Mohit failed to open their accounts while Ran got only one point. It was completely the defensive lapses that resulted in the tie. However, against Haryana, Mohit came good with four tackle points but in addition to that, he also had three unsuccessful tackle attempts to his name as well. Despite having the experience, the continuous failures of senior defenders have made life tough for team management.

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