Roha (Raigad) played host to 66th Kabaddi Senior National Championship and as always there were eyes on PKL stars and their form ahead of PKL 7. Players are also conscious that with Franchisees taking notice good performances in the nationals will earn them few extra bucks. While majority of the stars played according to their reputation there were some PKL stars who had a tournament to forget in terms of individual performances.
Rishank Devadiga: This year last time Rishank Devadiga’s star was arguably all-time high as he led Maharashtra to a win in the Nationals by playing a starring role. The 26-year old was also selected for the National Team for the first time for the Dubai Masters and the Asian Games. His superb form earned him a whopping 1crore 11 lakhs as U.P Yoddha exercised RTM on him. The Mumbaikar was named as U.P Yoddha’s captain for PKL 6 and started decently scoring 30 raid points in 4 matches but it went downhill for him after that as form and fitness issues meant he was not his usual self and ended the campaign with 100 raid points averaging less than 5 raid points per match. Rishank’s struggle continued in the 66th Senior National tournaments as the former U Mumba raider struggled to make an impact and was outshone Ajinkya Pawar and Tushar Patil.
Nitin Tomar: Nitin Tomar was in outstanding form for the Puneri Paltan in PKL 6 single handedly leading their raiding, unfortunately Nitin suffered knee ligament injury and missed 11 matches due to injury. The 23-year old was named in Uttar Pradesh’s team for the 66th Senior Nationals and formed a strong raiding trio with Rahul Chaudhari and Rohit Baliyan. Uttar Pradesh were eliminated in the quarter finals after suffering a defeat against Haryana in a nail-biting contest. While Rahul Chaudhari was in fine form, Tomar perhaps still not fully recovered from the injury hardly made any impact and surprisingly for a raider of his quality raided on a very few occasions. With Auctions due to be soon the left raider should return to form and fitness soon.
Girish Ernak: Puneri Paltan Captain Girish Ernak was another star who endured a disappointing 66th Kabaddi Senior National Championship. A Bronze medal winner with the National team at the 2018 Asian Games Girish Ernak looked a shadow of his former self. The left corner was expected to lead Maharashtra’s defence against a strong Railway team at the semi-finals, but the Maharashtra Captain failed to score a single tackle point leading to a big loss for the last season’s winners. To make matters worse there were also question marks on his fitness having visibly put on undesirable weight.
Dharmaraj Cheralathan: The veteran defender ended up on the winning side, but he should be thankful for his teammates to step up and get the job done. The 43-year old was perhaps the only weak link in the formidable railways team and the opposition duly targeted him. Against Karnataka in the quarter finals Cheralathan had a nightmare match with Prashanth Rai consistently targeting him with Railways just scraping over the line at the end. After defying age for so long perhaps age is starting to catch up with the oldest player in Pro Kabaddi League and he longer is feared by the opposition raiders like he was in his hey days.