Puneri Paltan made a brave move going into the auctions before the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 2019) – The team decided to start afresh and didn't retain any player.
A poor show last year saw the side finish fourth in Zone A and miss out on a playoff berth for the first time in four years. Going into the auction with virtually no players, the side used its Final Bid Match card to retain ace raider Nitin Tomar and burly defender Girish Ernak.
Seasoned campaigners Manjeet and Surjeet Singh were also roped in and a balanced squad was put in place. Another bold move the team management made, and perhaps the biggest change, will be the arrival of a new coach.
Former India captain and World Cup-winning star Anup Kumar will make his coaching debut as he takes charge of Puneri Paltan this year.
Puneri Paltan spent ₹120 lakh to hold on to the versatile Nitin Tomar. A veteran with a calculated approach to the game, he was the side's leading raider over the last two seasons and has scored 267 raid points, averaging upwards of eight points per game. However, his season 6 run was cut short owing to injury and a now fully-fit Nitin will look to share the raiding duties with Manjeet, who was signed for ₹62 lakh.
Playing as a second raider at Patna Pirates alongside Pardeep Narwal, Manjeet scored 87 raid points last year. The arrival of Darshan Kadian and Pawan Kadian, a pair of handy raiders, puts the raiding department in good stead.
Along with Girish's retention for ₹33 lakh, Puneri Paltan also got on board the powerful Surjeet Singh for ₹56 lakh. Girish has been Puneri Paltan's best defender over the last two campaigns with 120 tackle points, and both Girish and Surjeet are among the top-10 defenders in PKL history to have more than 200 tackle points. With the Iranian powerhouse Hadi Tajik also in the mix, Puneri Paltan's defence is clearly in safe hands.
Puneri Paltan has able all-rounders in Sagar and Sandeep, but neither has made an impact yet. Sagar played 20 matches and managed only 18 points last year, while Sandeep earned 10 points from 5 games. Amit Kumar will be making his debut this season.
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