The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is one of the most popular sports leagues in the country, and the raiders are some of the most popular athletes of the sport. Raiders are the offensive players in kabaddi, and they are responsible for scoring points by touching opponents and crossing the mid line.
There have been many great raiders in PKL history, but a few stand out above the rest. Here are the top raiders of all time in PKL, based on their total raid points
It was Randhir Singh who first spotted Pawan as a defender while on trials for Northern Railways. Coach Randhir helped Pawan get a job as a TT and took him under his wing for the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). While he failed to make a telling mark in Seasons 3 and 4, Pawan struggled with the Gujarat Giants in Season 5. Randhir Singh’s eye never fails and his guidance and care for players have helped turn the fortunes of many. He repeated this trick with Pawan, bidding ₹52.8 lakh in the Season 6 auctions and placing enormous trust in the youngster.
Since getting a second wind with the Bulls in Season 6, Pawan’s rise to the top has been nothing short of incredible. He was outstanding in the Bulls’ march to victory, bagging 209 raid points, including 13 Super 10s. The ‘Hi flier’ soared to stardom, winning MVP. In Season 7, he became only the second player after Pardeep Narwal to score 300 points in a season. He also broke Pardeep’s record of most raid points in a single match, with 39 against the Haryana Steelers. Pawan captained the Bulls in Season 8, falling short in the semi-finals.
The club legend bid a teary farewell to the Bulls and Randhir Singh after earning a bid of ₹2.26 crores from the Tamil Thalaivas, over half of the team’s budget.
Deepak Niwas Hooda has been an ace all-rounder across PKL teams. Despite losing both his parents early on in his life and having to take care of himself and his sister, he did not let his passion for kabaddi fade. He won gold at the All-India University tournament, which put him on the PKL map. After a very impressive first couple of seasons for Telugu Titans, the all-rounder played Seasons 3, 4, and 5 for the star-studded Puneri Paltan. He peaked in Season 5, winning 184 points in 24 matches. Deepak ended the season as the third-highest do-or-die raid point scorer, all as the captain of the side.
After moving on to Jaipur Pink Panthers, he became the highest-scoring all-rounder in Season 6, with 208 points in 22 matches. As captain, he prioritized raiding over defence, but a seesaw season saw the team disappoint towards the end. For India, he won gold at the 2016 South Asian Games and the Kabaddi World Cup the same year. He was a part of the 2018 Asian Games bronze medal-winning unit. He captained the team to victory at the 2019 South Asian Games. The legend will turn out for the Bengal Warriors, partnering with Maninder Singh in a mouth-watering raiding combination.
The ‘Poster Boy’ of Indian kabaddi hails from Uttar Pradesh. Rahul started as a defender, receiving an offer from the Indian Army, but declined to become a much more polished player. He was scouted by Telugu Titans’ Season 1 head coach J Udayakumar and burst onto the scene. He led the Titans’ raiding unit, racking up 161 raid points and finishing second on the raid points charts. His consistency over the years has made him a force to contend with, becoming the Season 4 top scorer and winning the Best Raider of the Season.
His efforts saw him become the first player to reach the 400-point mark and also end up as the skipper the next season. He helped India win gold at the 2016 South Asian Games and bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. Despite his powers being on the wane after leaving the Titans, Rahul has been a leader for Tamil Thalaivas and Puneri Paltan, nursing recent injuries. He will look to take on a different role as a support raider this season, after being sold to the Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Standing six feet tall, Maninder is an imposing presence on the mat. His story of perseverance is very well-documented. After a glorious start with the Jaipur Pink Panthers in Season 1, Maninder won the inaugural title and became the best raider with 130 points in 16 matches. He suffered an unfortunate injury, which kept him out of action for three long seasons.
Making a comeback with the Bengal Warriors, he was straight into the thick of things, scoring 190 raid points in his comeback season. He became the fastest raider to reach 500 raid points at a highly impressive scoring rate. He led the Warriors to their maiden title, but had to sit out of the finals against Dabang Delhi with an injury. After being retained, he will continue with the Warriors in Season 9.
Record-breaker and history-maker Pardeep Narwal holds a multitude of raiding records, including for the most raid points in PKL history. He was a key part of the Patna Pirates winning three consecutive trophies. He debuted for the Bulls in Season 2, but soon became one of the best raiders in the league after moving to the Patna Pirates. His third season with the Pirates was when he gained the status of being unmatchable in terms of quantity and quality of point-scoring. He notched up 369 raid points and led every raiding category.
He scored a Super 10 in 19 of the 26 matches he played, highlighting his ruthless dominance. Over the next couple of seasons, he maintained his high level of raiding, becoming the first player to reach 1000 raid points in the PKL. He has also won gold for India in four of the five tournaments he has participated in, namely the Kabaddi World Cup, the Asian Kabaddi Championships, Dubai Kabaddi Masters and the 2019 South Asian Games.
Pardeep shifted base to UP Yoddha, becoming the highest-paid player until the record was broken by Pawan Sehrawat and Vikash Kandola this season. Although the ‘Dubki King’ was prone to injuries last season, is hungry to perform this time around.