Welcome to ESPN's PKL Power Rankings as we pick the best players in Season 7 of the Pro Kabaddi League. The first leg in Hyderabad saw the home team struggle throughout but there were plenty of players who impressed.
#10 Pardeep Narwal
Raider, Patna Pirates
The Pirates lost their opening match against defending champions Bengaluru Bulls, but Pardeep was the top scorer as he notched yet another Super 10. He also top scored in their second match, a win against Telugu Titans. While he's not on top of the raid points tally yet, getting there only seems like a matter of time.
#9 Sunil Kumar
Defender, Gujarat Fortunegiants
That the Fortunegiants are top of the table after the first leg is down to their formidable defence. Sunil has struck up a brilliant partnership with Parvesh Bhainswal in the last three seasons and that has been the key to the Fortunegiants' continued success. Sunil was key to subduing last season's MVP Pawan Kumar Sehrawat in his team's opening match this season.
#8 Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
Raider, Bengaluru Bulls
Sehrawat is yet to hit the heights of last season but has easily been the best player for the Bulls in their two matches. Even though Pardeep outscored him in the Pirates-Bulls match, it was the Bulls who won because of Pawan's higher raid strike rate. Even as Siddharth Desai (last season's other breakout star) has struggled to recapture his best form, Pawan seems unaffected by the hype around him.
#7 Joginder Singh Narwal
Defender, Dabang Delhi KC
The vastly-experienced Joginder might be in the autumn of his career, but his leadership has been pivotal to Delhi's success in the last two seasons. With veterans like Vishal Mane and Ravinder Pahal giving him solid support, Delhi's defence has proved to be a tough challenge for most raiders. What makes Joginder's displays even more impressive is that he has already faced the likes of Ajay Thakur, Rahul Chaudhari and Siddharth and come up trumps.
Raider, Haryana Steelers
Having racked up more than hundred points in an impressive debut season last year, the Steelers opted to buy Naveen back in the auction and he repaid that faith by scoring a Super 10 in their win against Puneri Paltan. With former India captain Rakesh Kumar coaching the Steelers this year, expect Naveen to only improve from hereon.
#5 Amit Hooda
Defender, Jaipur Pink Panthers
Amit has for long been one of the most consistent defenders in the league, his best showing coming with the Panthers in Season 4. Having returned to the Panthers this year, Amit will have to lead the defence in a young team; he seemed up to the challenge as he scored a High 5 in the win over U Mumba in the team's opening match.
#4 Deepak Niwas Hooda
All-rounder, Jaipur Pink Panthers
The added responsibility of captaincy has always seen Deepak thrive and there was more of the same in Panthers' win against U Mumba where he notched a customary Super 10. Having been the best player in a dismal outfit last year, Deepak will be key if his young side are to make the playoffs this season.
#3 Baldev Singh
Defender, Bengal Warriors
When Bengal Warriors chose to let go of Surjeet Singh and Ran Singh before this season, their defence looked extremely weak on paper and few would have expected Baldev to lead the defence in just his second season. Baldev was a regular starter for Warriors in his debut last year but was part of a weak defence that ultimately cost them in the playoffs. However, he got his season off to a blockbuster start by amassing seven points in the match against UP Yoddha as Warriors notched a comfortable win against a team boasting solid raiders like Monu Goyat and Shrikant Jadhav.
#2 Manjeet Chhillar
All-rounder, Tamil Thalaivas
Manjeet has been a part of the PKL since its inception but what makes him special is the fact that he continues to be the top defender in the league in his seventh season. While his raiding prowess has dwindled with age, his tackle strike rate of 85% so far this edition is almost unheard of. Even as most of his contemporaries have retired or faded away, Manjeet continues to be a top-class performer, regardless of which team he plays for.
#1 Naveen Kumar
Raider, Dabang Delhi KC
Holding the distinction of being the first player born in the 21st century to play in the PKL, Naveen continues to go from strength to strength. Having rapidly ascended to being Delhi's lead raider in his opening season last year, when he went on to score an impressive tally of 177 points, Naveen has garnered praise from the likes of Rakesh Kumar and Delhi's coach Krishan Kumar Hooda. With 21 points in two matches, Naveen looks set to be among the top raiders for the second year in a row.