The Chennai leg of the Pro Kabaddi League saw the trend of home teams struggling this year continue as Tamil Thalaivas failed to win a single match, losing three and tying one. Even as Jaipur Pink Panthers, Bengal Warriors and Dabang Delhi KC continued to impress, the struggles of Patna Pirates and Telugu Titans were amplified with them now occupying the last two places on the points table.
Here are our power rankings from the fifth leg of the season:
#10 Sandeep Narwal
All-Rounder, U Mumba
The vastly experienced all-rounder has been a fine player in the PKL for many seasons now and sometimes does not get the credit he deserves. Even as most of the other players from his generation are struggling, Sandeep continues to be among his team's best performers.
Not the most athletic of players, he makes up for his lack of speed through sheer force of will and his indomitable spirit. Sandeep scored 10 points in Mumba's two matches this week and helped them to stay in the top four in the points table.
#9 Rohit Gulia
All-Rounder, Gujarat Fortunegiants
After a dismal home leg where they lost all their four matches, Gujarat were in dire need of inspiration to snap their six-match losing streak, their longest in the PKL. That came through Gulia in their only match this week, against Patna.
With Sachin Tanwar not a part of the starting seven, the onus was on Gulia to lead the raiding department and he delivered in style by scoring 10 points as his team edged out Patna in a tense finish despite Pardeep Narwal's heroics.
#8 Rinku Narwal
Defender, Bengal Warriors
Bengal were unbeaten again this week and that was down in no small part to the continued improvement in their defence. Rinku did the star turn in the match against Patna, where he scored a High 5 despite struggling against Pardeep in the initial stages.
With the experienced Jeeva Kumar and right corner Baldev Singh, Rinku is starting to form a mean defence. His combination tackles with Jeeva have been a delight to watch as Bengal's left side of defence has almost been unbreachable.
Raider, Puneri Paltan
Paltan might be ninth in the points table but they had a good Chennai leg, holding the home team to a tie and defeating defending champions Bengaluru Bulls. Having been bolstered by Nitin Tomar's return, Paltan's other raiders have upped their game and Manjeet was the pick of the lot against the Bulls as he notched up seven points while being tackled only once in the match.
Manjeet impressed for Patna last season and is doing even better this year as he has got a lot more opportunities in a team that has tended to distribute its raids more evenly.
#6 Vikas Kandola
Raider, Haryana Steelers
After losing two of their first three matches this season, Steelers have won four of the next six and the change in fortunes has been down to Kandola being a part of the team in those six matches. What sets Kandola apart from most other top raiders in the league is his remarkable consistency.
Steelers won one of their two matches in Chennai but Kandola was the top-scorer for them on both occasions, scoring an identical nine points in each match. He scored two successful raids for each unsuccessful one this week.
#5 Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
Raider, Bengaluru Bulls
If Sehrawat's performance was unprecedented last season, he has been even better this time and continues to remain on top of the total points scored table by a comfortable margin. Even though Bulls lost one of their two matches this week, Sehrawat picked up yet another Super 10 in the match they won.
Sehrawat has already scored five Super 10s this season and he is not higher on the list only because he had a rare off day in Bulls' loss against Paltan.
#4 Naveen Kumar
Raider, Dabang Delhi KC
He might still be a teenager but nothing in his playing style betrays his inexperience. Naveen's solid technique, dexterity and speed marked him out as one of the best players last season but he has arguably been the player of PKL-7 so far.
He picked up a now-customary Super 10 in Delhi's only match this week and has scored six Super 10s in just seven matches. What makes his achievement even more impressive is that unlike most other teams, Delhi is choc-a-bloc with good raiders, which means that Naveen has fewer raiding opportunities than most other lead raiders.
#3 Maninder Singh
Raider, Bengal Warriors
After being surprisingly substituted by coach BC Ramesh after just two unsuccessful raids in Bengal's tied match against Delhi, Maninder came back strongly against Patna by scoring a Super 10 that helped his team to a comfortable win against the three-time champions.
Maninder has also been impressive as captain after replacing Surjeet Singh, who was a stalwart for Bengal and led them to the playoffs in the last two seasons.
#2 Surjeet Singh
Defender, Puneri Paltan
One of the most feared and respected defenders in the league, Surjeet's game had been on a downward spiral since the start of season six. It seemed like his woes were set to continue this season but he found his mojo back in the Chennai leg, scoring 13 tackle points in just two matches.
The India international has come in for criticism of late, sometimes too harsh, but he answered his critics emphatically in this leg and remains one of the country's best defenders when at his best, in spite of having being around for a long time now.
#1 Siddharth Desai
Raider, Telugu Titans
Titans played only one match but that was enough for Siddharth to put in the most dominant performance of the week. He scored a rarely seen total of 18 raid points from 18 raids and was only tackled once as 14 of the raids were successful.
Despite a sluggish start, Siddharth has shown that he's not a one-season wonder and can still salvage Titans' season -- even if it seems an onerous task.