PKL 8: From young Vikash Kandola to evergreen Pardeep Narwal, players to watch out for

Vikash Kandola already has 90 points from nine matches this season. Pro Kabaddi League

The Pro Kabaddi League is back! After a hiatus of more than two years, the best players in the sport will return to PKL action. We pick seven of the best that you absolutely must keep an eye on in season 8 --

Maninder Singh (Bengal Warriors)

Made captain before the season started in 2019, Maninder was sensational for Bengal Warriors, scoring 205 points in 20 matches at almost a point-per-game better than any previous season. His outstanding work carried the Bengal Warriors to second in the league stage -- which is when injury struck. He missed the Warriors march to the title in the playoffs and he will not want to be left out again. Expect him to pick it up exactly where he left off. Fast, powerful, and a canny captain, Maninder starts as one of the front runners for season 8's MVP award.

Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)

A total of 82 tackle points at an average of 3.2 saw Fazel Atrachali being named the Best Defender in the league for a second time (after season 4) last season. Just the second player to have won the award twice after Manjeet Chillar, he also became the third defender and the first foreigner to hit the 300 tackle point milestone. Atrachali was the driving force behind U Mumba's second straight playoff appearance. His larger-than-life personality and easy leadership skills have made him one of the most popular players on the circuit. In a team bustling with youngsters, his experience will be the foundation upon which any successful campaign will be built. There's a reason Mumba kept their captain as an Elite Retained Player ahead of the big auction.

Vikash Kandola (Haryana Steelers)

Vikash exploded to life in season 6 before upping his game in the next edition. He scored 190 raid points at 9.5 points-per-game (up from 7.81 ppg in season 6) while almost single-handedly carrying Haryana Steelers to the playoffs. He has been their top scorer for the past two seasons, and is in fact the top scorer in their league history, which is why he was the only Elite Retained Player by the club. Explosive on the turn, Vikash is ruthless on the mat and a calm, jovial figure off it. Made captain this season by legendary-player-turned-coach Rakesh Kumar, young Vikash will be keen to show that trust in his leadership, and inarguable skill, hasn't been misplaced.

Pawan Kumar Sehrawat (Bengaluru Bulls)

The revelation of season 6, Pawan Kumar Sehrawat continued his tremendous form in season 7. With 360 points, he was easily the highest-scoring player in the league last season (54 more than the second-highest), as he dragged Bengaluru Bulls to the playoffs. He broke Pardeep Narwal's record for most points scored in a single match when he scored a stunning 39 raid points against the Haryana Steelers. He averaged an incredible 14.41 raid points per game and had a successful raid percentage of 75.05%. He is simply the best player in the league right now. MVP for the last two seasons, there's no reason to believe he will be dethroned any time soon.

Naveen Kumar (Dabang Delhi KC)

Naveen was the first 2000s-born player to feature in the league when he debut in season 6. He ended up being his team's top scorer and led Dabang Delhi to a maiden playoff appearance. Season 7 saw him increase his points tally exponentially (177 in 2018 to 303 in 2019) as he led Delhi to first place in the league stage and the final of the playoffs. Arguably the fastest raider in the league, his running hand touch is becoming the stuff of legend. Exciting, explosive and reliable, Naveen is not just the future of the PKL, he is very much the present.

Sandeep Kumar Dhull (Jaipur Pink Panthers)

Sandeep went from a top 10 defender in his first two seasons (3 and 4) to incredibly going unsold in the auction for season 5. He returned to the league in season 6 and exploded into form with the Jaipur Pink Panthers and then continued on in season 7, scoring 67 and 73 points in each of the two seasons. He was, in fact, the fourth highest-scoring defender last time around. Jaipur are a team filled to the brim with stars, but there appears to be bitter discord amongst its seniors and Dhull will be keen to step up, smooth things over and ensure they don't miss out on the playoffs again.

Pardeep Narwal (UP Yoddha)

He's the most expensive player in the history of the league -- UP Yoddha paid Rs. 1.65 crore for him this auction. He's the highest scoring player in league history, with 1160 points (to put that in context, that's nearly 43% of all the points three-time winners Patna Pirates have ever scored). He has more than double the number of super raids than the next closest. Last season Patna were in shambles, finishing eighth... he still finished as the season's second-highest scorer. Pardeep is a one-man point-scoring juggernaut, and with younger raiders taking the spotlight in the last couple of seasons, he will want to prove that he can still lead a team to ultimate glory. The King will want his throne back.