PKL 2021 player auction: All you need to know

Pardeep Narwal is one of the biggest names in the PKL auction pool. PKL

The player auction for the eighth season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) will be held in Mumbai from August 29 to 31. Scheduled to start in December this year, the PKL will be returning to action after over two years as the league was not held in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Here's all you need to know about the auction:

What is the player pool?

Over 450 players will go under the hammer at the auction. This includes a total of 161 players released by the 12 teams ahead of the auction. Also included are players who were part of the teams' squads in Season 6. In addition, all the players who represented the top eight teams in the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) Senior Men's National Kabaddi Championships in 2020 and 2021, are up for auction.

The players not up for the auction are those retained by the teams. There are 59 in all - 22 Elite Retained Players, six Retained Young Players and 31 New Young Players.

How are the players categorised?

The auction has three categories of players -- domestic, overseas and New Young Players. Domestic players are further divided into four categories - A, B, C and D. New Young Players consist of uncapped players picked through the Future Kabaddi Heroes scouting programme of Mashal Sports, the league's organisers. Teams can retain up to six New Young Players before the auction. In terms of skills, players are categorised as raiders, defenders and all rounders.

How many players actually get picked?

Each team's squad must have a minimum of 18 players and a maximum of 25 players. This includes a minimum of two and a maximum of four overseas players. Therefore, the total number of players that can play in a season is 300.

How much can teams spend?

Each team has a player purse of Rs. 4.4 crore with which to build their squad. The base prices for the four categories of domestic players are:

A - Rs. 30 lakh

B - Rs. 20 lakh

C - Rs. 10 lakh

D - Rs. 6 lakh

Final Bid Match card

The Final Bid Match (FBM) card is an option that allows a team to buy back a player they have released for the auction by matching another team's final bid for the player. At the end of a round of bidding, the player's previous team will be asked if they want to match the final bid or not.

However, the use of FBM, which was introduced in the auctions for Season 6, is limited, depending upon the number of Elite Retained Players in the squad.

If a team has retained the maximum of six elite players, they will not be able to use the FBM card. A team that has retained five elite players can exercise FBM once and teams that have retained four elite players or less can use FBM twice in the auction. All 12 teams are eligible to use their two FBM cards.

How can one follow the auction?

The auction will begin at 6:30pm IST on each day. However, only the bidding for Category A domestic players on Monday, August 30, will be broadcast live.

The auction will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports FIRST, Star Sports 1 Telugu, Star Sports 1 Tamil and Star Sports 1 Kannada TV. In addition, it will be live streamed on Disney+ Hotstar. The rest of the auction proceedings can be followed on prokabaddi.com.

Players to watch out for

While there are many interesting players to watch out, here are some of the notable ones:

Pardeep Narwal: PKL's most prolific raider is arguably the biggest name in the auction pool. Narwal joined Patna Pirates in Season 3 and led the team to three straight titles. The Pirates failed to make the playoffs in the last two seasons, but Narwal continued his high-scoring ways. The fact that he leads the league's all-time raiding stats, despite having joined only in Season 2, is testament to his ability.

Siddharth Desai: Desai made a big mark in his debut season, scoring 221 points to help U Mumba make the playoffs. The Telugu Titans spent Rs. 1.45 crore on him for Season 7. Although the team didn't make the playoffs, Desai did well to score 220 points in the season. His speed is his biggest strength.

Monu Goyat: Goyat's raiding abilities were crucial to the Pirates' title run in Season 5. He padded up the team's attack, reducing their dependence on Narwal. Goyat attracted a record bid of Rs. 1.51 crore from Haryana Steelers ahead of Season 6. Although he hasn't repeated the form he showed in Season 5, the possibility of him and Narwal being reunited, either in the Pirates or with another team, makes his bid an interesting one to watch for.

Baldev Singh: While Maninder Singh and Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh led the charge in attack, it was Baldev Singh, along with Ranki Narwal, who held the fort in the defence for Season 7 winners Bengal Warriors. Baldev will be a great pick for any team looking to strengthen their defences.

Mahender Singh: Mahender is another great pick for teams looking for effective defenders. Mahender was Bengaluru Bulls' best defender in Season 7. He is known for the dash - using his momentum to knock raiders out of bounds, a skill for which he has earned the nickname 'The Bulldozer'.