The PKL this season saw a generational shift in a sense that the established PKL stars were upstaged by youngsters who made much more impact than the PKL’s stars. PKL 6 saw several youngsters come of age and in this article, we bring you the under 22 team of the season. The PKL over the years has seen great players emerge regardless of the age and experience, and the following players have the talent to dominate the PKL for years to come.
Right Corner: Nitesh Kumar: The right corner had a season for ages displaying maturity well beyond his years and leading U.P Yoddha’s defence. The 21- year old enjoyed a season for ages becoming the first player to score 100 tackle points in history. His tally of 8 High 5s were also the 2nd most in a PKL season with only Surender Nada having more in a PKL season. Nitesh, the youngest member of the Yoddha defence almost single handedly kept the opposition raiders at bay when many of his senior defenders struggled for form. Nitesh has emerged as one of the most complete defenders of PKL with his vice like ankle and thigh holds.
Right In: Naveen Kumar: Young Naveen Kumar proved to be a sensation for Dabang Delhi leading their raiding department scoring 172 raid points, the most by a Delhi player in PKL 6. The 18-year old was one of the big reasons for Dabang Delhi making their first ever play-offs in PKL history. Not since Rahul Chaudhari in PKL 1 has a teenaged raider made such an impact in PKL. Naveen’s biggest asset is his quick footwork and the ability to lure defences into making mistakes. He is quick on the mat and possesses a deadly running hand touch. The Haryana native is expected to better his PKL 6 performances and once again lead Dabang Delhi’s raiding department.
Right Cover: Surinder Singh: The laughing stock of PKL 5, the enigmatic Surinder matured remarkably in PKL 6 becoming one of the best right covers in the game. The 20-year old always had the power but struggled for timing and gifted away points to the raiders due to his impetuousness. The U Mumba defender scored 62 tackle points, among right covers only Gujarat’s Sunil Kumar scored more tackle points emerging as one of the best defenders of PKL 6. The Himachal native formed a deadly duo with his fellow Himachal native Rohit Rana with his deadly holds flooring many raiders in their tracks making him a feared opponent for the opposition raiders.
Centre: Vikash Khandola: The Haryana Steelers showcased glimpses of his potential in PKL 5 but unfortunately was struck down by knee injuries twice robbing him a chance to display his true potential. Haryana Steelers bought him back again for 46 lakhs exercising the RTM option and the 20-year old thankfully enjoyed an uninterrupted campaign in PKL 6 emerging arguably as the go to raider for Haryana despite the presence of PKL’s record buy Monu Goyat. The nimble footed raider scored 172 raid points and led Haryana’s raiding superbly in a spell where Monu Goyat struggled with form and fitness. The Railways raider though is not blessed with height and strength he is extremely quick on the turn and cleverly forces errors from defenders due to his quick footwork.
Left Cover: Mahender Singh: The young Bengaluru Bulls defender was the unsung hero in Bengaluru Bulls title triumph in PKL 6. The 22-year old was Bengaluru Bulls most successful defender scoring 63 tackle points including 6 High 5s and held the Bulls defence together. While Mahender is primarily a left cover he also filled in a number of defensive positions during the season as per the team’s requirement. Armed with a strong dash and a perfect thigh hold Mahender’s exploits saw him nicknamed as the “Bull Dozer” by his coach Randhir Singh Sherawat.
Left In: Sachin Tanwar: Sachin Tanwar once again enjoyed a stunning season proving doubters that his heroics in PKL 5 was not one off. The 19-year old led Gujarat Fortune Giants raiding playing a major role in Gujarat Fortune Giants run to their 2nd consecutive PKL final. The Rajasthan native did his job in the final scoring a Super 10 but unfortunately for Gujarat it wasn’t enough. The right raider is tall, quick and is a deadly exponent of the running hand touch which fetches majority of his raid points. He ended the campaign with an impressive tally of 190 raid points and if not for the knee injury which interrupted his campaign would have surely reached 200 raid points.
Left Corner: Sandeep Dhull: Sandeep Dhull returned with a bang for the Jaipur Pink Panthers after missing last season. In a forgettable season for Jaipur Pink Panthers, the defender along with Deepak Hooda was perhaps the only players who kept their reputation intact. The 22-year old impressed with his timing and his vice like ankle holds proved impossible for the opposition raiders to shake off. The former Telugu Titans and Dabang Delhi left corner emerged as one of the best left corners of PKL and the Railways defender has all the skills to dominate the PKL in the coming years.