Jaipur Pink Panthers was the champions of the inaugural season of Pro Kabaddi League. But since then the team has struggled to find it’s form. Apart from season 4 where it finished runner-up, Jaipur has had forgettable campaigns finishing in the bottom half of the table every other time.
Led by World Cup-winning India captain Anup Kumar in season 6, Jaipur failed to match expectations last season, finishing fifth in Zone A — like it did in season 5 but, eight points worse off.
Since then, Anup Kumar has retired and moved into coaching while the team management, with the notable additions of Deepak Narwal and Amit Hooda, used the auction window to build a balanced squad.
Deepak was one of the few positives for the team last season. In 22 matches, he picked up 196 raid points — an average of 8.9 raid points per game and it was not surprising when the team spent a quarter of its budget in retaining the 25-year-old.
It is a fight between Nilesh Salunke and Deepak Narwal to be the team's second raider with young but proven raiders in Nitin Rawal and Ajinkya Pawar making the depth of the raiding department.
Nilesh and Deepak Narwal, good in do-or-die raids, will need to find their form quickly as Deepak cannot be expected to carry the full burden of the team's attack. Left raider Ajinkya, who was largely used as a substitute last season, managed an impressive 71 raid points in just 17 appearances and will be looking to build on that this campaign.
Sri Lanka's Milinda Chaturanga, NYP Sushil Guhia, Guman Singh and Lokesh Kaushik could get a look in during the long season if the team's form allows for squad rotation.
With Mohit Chhillar not at his best last season, the team replaced him with right-corner Amit Hooda, who was a star when the side finished as the runner-up in season 4. The team also retained left-corner Sandeep Kumar Dhull, the fifth-highest tackle points scorer last campaign — and the second-best left-corner after Fazel Atrachali.
Sunil Siddhgavali and Vishal will play the role of covers. The former, with the second-highest tackle points (33) for the team last season, has been retained while the latter was bought in the auctions for ₹25.25 Lakhs.
Defensive all-rounder Santhapanaselvam, who managed to not get tackled in 14 matches last season, could be Amit Hooda's back-up at right corner, while 19-year-old Sachin Narwal could be one of the emerging debutants this season. Korea's Dong Gyu, who has been with the team since season 5, will be hoping to finally make his debut this season.
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