The Pune leg of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 7 ended on Friday, with Puneri Paltan finishing with a mixed bag of two wins, one tie and one loss. Although not quite as impressive a record at home as the teams in the past few legs, Paltan have done well enough to keep alive their hopes of a playoff berth.
Here are our power rankings from the ninth leg of the season:
#10 V Ajith Kumar
Raider, Tamil Thalaivas
V Ajith Kumar's performances will be encouraging for a team that has tended to be overreliant on Rahul Chaudhari and Ajay Thakur. Ajith scored nine points in his team's loss to Haryana and 18 points from just 19 raids -- half his team's tally -- in the 36-36 tie against Puneri Paltan. Although the Thalaivas' playoffs hopes are effectively over, Ajith's form could help them end the season on a positive note.
#9 Neeraj Kumar
Defender, Patna Pirates
Neeraj Kumar, Patna's right-corner defender, has been closer to the middle of defensive stats lists than the top so far. However, he finds mention in this week's rankings for the enormity of his performance in Patna's 55-33 rout of the Paltan. Neeraj came up with a Super 10 of tackle points, scoring 11 in all to set up his team's dominant performance, along with Pardeep Narwal's brilliance in the raiding department, of course.
#8 Sagar B Krishna
Allrounder, Puneri Paltan
Sagar Krishna has only scored 13 points from 10 matches so far. However, he showed great promise in his team's 42-38 win over defending champions Bengaluru Bulls, scoring seven tackle points off seven total tackles, including several emphatic ankle holds to get the better of Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and Rohit Kumar. His performance gives captain and defender Surjeet Singh some useful support as the team push for a playoff berth.
#7 Pankaj Mohite
Raider, Puneri Paltan
Although listed as a raider, Manjeet has made significant contributions to the Paltan's defence as well. However, he is no longer the team's top-scoring raider, having been displaced by Pankaj Mohite. Mohite's performances have steadily been improving and he put in his best effort of his PKL career so far, scoring 17 points in his team's 42-38 win over Bengaluru. He regularly troubled Bengaluru's defence with his speed, proving to be the difference between the two teams even though Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and Rohit Kumar both scored Super 10s.
#6 Abhishek Singh
Raider, U Mumba
U Mumba played just the one match in Pune, and recorded an important victory over the in-form UP Yoddha, who came into the game on the back of a five-match winning streak. After a couple of poor matches, U Mumba's top raider Abhishesk Singh once again delivered for his team, scoring 11 points. Thanks to the win, U Mumba displaced UP from fifth position on the points table.
#5 Siddharth Desai
Raider, Telugu Titans
Although the Titans have struggled as a team and are second-last on the table, Siddharth Desai's performances have got more reliable in the last few matches. He is currently fifth in the list of total points as well as raid points, and scored two Super 10s in the team's last two games, one in a loss to Dabang Delhi and other in a tie against Patna Pirates.
#4 Surjeet Singh
Defender, Puneri Paltan
Surjeet Singh's experience and quality in defence have been key factors in the Paltan's performances. He had relatively poor performances in the team's loss and tie, but scored High 5s in the two games they won at home. Surjeet is currently fifth on the list of tackle points and successful tackles.
#3 Maninder Singh
Raider, Bengal Warriors
Having had a successful home leg in Kolkata last week, the Bengal Warriors played just one match in Pune. They recorded an impressive 48-36 win over Haryana Steelers to snap the latter's seven-match unbeaten streak. Bengal captain and raider Maninder Singh picked up from where he had left off in Kolkata, scoring a highly efficient 18 raid points from 19 raids. Maninder's performance, and Bengal's resultant victory, was all the more important because it also gave the team second place in the table over Haryana.
#2 Pardeep Narwal
Raider, Patna Pirates
After a disastrous start to this season, the three-time champions have finally begun to string together a few wins as they make a final push for a playoff berth. Throughout this period, Pardeep Narwal's performances, which have kept the Pirates alive, have been consistent no matter the team's fortunes.
After becoming the first person in the PKL to reach the milestone of 1,000 raid points last week in Kolkata, Pardeep has kept his momentum going. He scored 18 raid points in Patna's 55-33 thrashing of the home team and 17 raid points off just 19 raids in his team's 42-42 tie against Telugu Titans.
#1 Naveen Kumar
Raider, Dabang Delhi KC
Dabang Delhi won both their matches in Pune to extend their lead at the top of the table. Perhaps unsurprisingly, once again it was Naveen Kumar leading the way for his team with his raiding. He strengthened his claim to being the best, most consistent player this season by scoring two more Super 10s -- he now has 15 from 16 matches and leads the list of Super 10s scored.
Although he is currently third in the list of raid points and total points scored, having fallen slightly behind Pardeep Narwal, Naveen has played one game less than the Patna star.