Jaipur Pink Panthers finished a disappointing home leg on Friday, winning just one of their four matches, tying one and losing to Gujarat Fortunegiants and Telugu Titans, both of whom have been struggling this season. A good performance in the home leg would have made them a certainty for the playoffs but they are now tottering on the brink of elimination and look like missing out on the playoffs again.
Here are our power rankings from the tenth leg of the season:
#10 Surinder Singh
Defender, U Mumba
Surinder, a constant presence for U Mumba since he made his debut in Season 5, has been one of the most improved players in the league in the last three years. He showed plenty of potential in his maiden season but tended to be impulsive and put in unnecessary tackles.
He has struck a formidable partnership with left corner Fazel Atrachali in the last two seasons and was U Mumba's best defender in both their matches in Jaipur, with an impressive tackle strike rate of 63.63 percent.
#9 Pardeep Narwal (-7)
Raider, Patna Pirates
Patna, who lost both their matches this week, are virtually out of contention for the playoffs, but Pardeep performed to his usual high standard and also became the first player in the history of the league to surpass 1100 points.
Pardeep was the highest-scoring raider in both his team's matches but his team's flaky defence meant that they threw away leads as the opposition edged them out comfortably -- a recurring theme this season.
#8 Baldev Singh
Defender, Bengal Warriors
Baldev got limited opportunities in an experienced Bengal defence in his maiden season last year but has been the leader of their inexperienced defence this time around. Despite all the big names in their defence, Bengal's average tackle point tally of 8.7 was the second worst for any team last season.
That tally has risen to 9.68 this season but they'll need Baldev to keep up his form from the Jaipur leg if they are to go all the way for the first time.
#7 Vikash Kandola
Raider, Haryana Steelers
Kandola scored a customary Super 10 in Haryana's only match in Jaipur, a 39-34 win against Patna. With Dharmaraj Cheralathan not playing the game, Kandola was named captain and led the team well, topping their points tally with 13 points in the match.
He has now scored eight Super 10s in just 14 matches this season. Interestingly, Haryana have won all of those eight matches, showing how crucial he is to his team's fortunes. After a slow start, Haryana are now shaping up to be one of the favourites for the title as the league enters its final stretch.
#6 Anil Kumar
Defender, Dabang Delhi KC
Anil has been a part of the PKL for five seasons now and is generally targeted by the opposition as the weakest link in a mean Delhi defence that boasts PKL stalwarts like Joginder Narwal, Ravinder Pahal and Vishal Mane.
While that ploy has worked well for several teams in the past, Anil was on top of his game this week against arguably the best raiders he's likely to face this year - Pardeep and Pawan Kumar Sehrawat - as he outshone his more celebrated fellow defenders in his team's matches against Patna and Bengaluru Bulls.
#5 Abhishek Singh (+1)
Raider, U Mumba
Abhishek has struck a solid partnership with PKL veteran Rahul Chaudhari for Uttar Pradesh in the National Championships, but the wider world is getting to see how good he is only in this season of the PKL.
He's ninth on the average raid point tally this season and was U Mumba's best raider in their two matches in the Jaipur leg, a narrow loss against Bengaluru and a comfortable win against Gujarat, scoring Super 10s on both occasions. His ability to strike in do-or-die raids makes him a particularly valuable raider for his team.
#4 Naveen Kumar (-2)
Raider, Dabang Delhi KC
Naveen has now scored 17 Super 10s in just 18 matches this season, with the last 16 of those coming in successive matches. His raw display of emotion after he was tackled in the final raid for the match against Bengaluru to end in a tie, showed how much each match and point matters to him despite his team already making it to the playoffs and comfortably on top of the table.
#3 Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
Raider, Bengaluru Bulls
With captain Rohit Kumar missing from Bangalore's starting seven in both their matches in Jaipur, the onus was on Sehrawat to not just lead the raiding department, but also captain the side. His tactical smarts served the team well as they tied their match with table-toppers Delhi.
They then went on to beat U Mumba in a nail-biting contest with Sehrawat scoring a Super 10 against arguably the strongest defence this season.
#2 Siddharth Desai (+3)
Raider, Telugu Titans
Desai received a fair bit of flak for his slow start to the season but he has ultimately struck the form he displayed last season, scoring points by the bucketful and doing the star turn almost every time Titans have won. He notched 37 points in just two matches in the last week; what makes that tally even more impressive is that he needed just 35 raids to score those points, an average of more than a point per raid.
Even though Titans won just one of their two matches, none of the blame lies with Desai, who took his team to wins almost single-handedly on both occasions.
#1 Maninder Singh (+2)
Raider, Bengal Warriors
Bengal are firmly entrenched in second spot on the points table and are the only team other than Delhi to have qualified for the playoffs already. That is in no small part down to captain marvellous Maninder Singh, who has led from the front in his first season in charge.
Maninder has rarely had an off day this season and has been mighty impressive as a raider. Unlike most other captains who are also raiders, he has not hogged the raiding duties and has still been Bengal's most successful raider in almost every match.