The Pro Kabaddi League returns with its seventh season on July 20, and like every season, this one too promises action-packed matches and last-moment turnarounds courtesy of the raiders and defenders. But who are the ones to particularly watch out for, you ask? We have the answer.
Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, raider
The MVP of Season 6, Sehrawat pulled off the unthinkable with his super-fast and highly deceptive raiding as he surpassed one and all -- including 'dubki king' and PKL poster boy Pardeep Narwal. Apart from almost single-handedly helping Bengaluru Bulls become the champions, he also scored the most points -- 282, a good 49 points ahead of Narwal, second in the table. Whether Sehrawat can continue scoring -- and scaring his opponents -- is something all teams will be keeping an eye on.
Siddharth Desai, raider
The fastest player to reach 50 points in the league, Desai shone through in his debut season, becoming U Mumba's biggest asset. His running hand touches, flexibility and height advantage often perplexed defenders as he covered both sides on the mat with ease. With a new team, Telugu Titans, and a new billing as the player with the highest bid this season, it will be interesting to see how he responds to his added responsibilities.
Parvesh Bhainswal, defender
Solid with his grips, Bhainswal is a master of blocks. Working mainly as a left cover, he is quick with a sharp mind. It is because of this that Gujarat Fortunegiants also used him as the left corner last season after Fazel Atrachali, their original left corner, moved to U Mumba. His partnership with right corner Sunil Kumar has been one of the USPs of Gujarat, who will look to continue cashing in on the sound defensive partnership of Bhainswal and Sunil.
Maninder Singh, raider
If there has been one player who has done exceedingly well in many of the past seasons and yet remained understated, it has been Bengal Warriors' Maninder Singh. Known for his running hand touches and dependability, Maninder has been the top raider for his team in the last couple of years, his average being 9.36 raids per match last season. And with Surjeet Singh not being there in the team any more, Maninder becoming captain is another could-be that might play a crucial role this year.
Nitesh Kumar, defender
Very much the find of the last season, Future Kabaddi Heroes alumni Nitesh Kumar became the first defender in the league's history to score 100 tackle points. At a time when raiders get the maximum amount of applause for their quick scores, the right corner from UP Yoddha garnered a lot of attention, especially because of a never-seen-before tackle strike rate of 64.93. If Kumar continues to perform the way he did last season, his ankle-holds can become troublesome for any raider.
Fazel Atrachali, defender
If one player has excelled over the course of time, it has been Iran's Fazel Atrachali. One of the top foreign players in the league, U Mumba's left corner has been rock solid, not only as a defender but as a captain too. Consistently featuring among the league's top-three defenders, Atrachali specializes in the dash -- a technique where the defender sprints across the mat using his full force to keep the raider from scoring a point. He is also the only international player to feature four times in the final of the tournament.
Jang Kun Lee, raider
A regular on the kabaddi circuit for a long time now, raider Jang Kun Lee has always impressed with his flexibility and agility. A martial-arts expert, the South Korean has a unique acrobatic style of raiding. Jang's speed is another boon since his scorpion kicks often leave opposition defenders puzzled. And if his performance at the recent Kabaddi All-Star is to go by, Jang - who had a relatively quiet season last year -- seems to be back in form, right in time to perform for his new team, Patna Pirates.