PKL 8 mid-term grades: Naveen Kumar, Dabang Delhi get A+; Anup Kumar's Puneri Paltan disappoint

What sets Naveen apart from any other raider is his remarkable consistency. PKL

The Pro Kabaddi League is just past its halfway stage with each team having played a minimum of 11 games.

Dabang Delhi KC, Bengaluru Bulls, and Patna Pirates have pulled away from the rest of the pack and have one foot in the playoffs already. But only seven points separate the fourth placed team from the eleventh (a win in the PKL fetches six points if it's by a margin of 7+ points).

It's been a frenetic month of action and we analyse each team's display in the first half and grade them (A+ being highest, F being lowest).

Kabaddi home | PKL 8: Full coverage

Dabang Delhi KC

Grade: A+

Biggest strength: Reigning MVP Naveen Kumar.

Biggest weakness: Ageing cover defenders.

Best player: Naveen Kumar. The most complete raider in the league is on course to be MVP again and has been in peerless touch.

Watchability: 10/10 - In Sandeep Narwal, Delhi have one of the league's most entertaining players of all time and with him getting more raiding opportunities this season, the team have been value for money.

What they must improve: Naveen has done the bulk of their scoring and they would want their experienced defenders to make a difference.

Bengaluru Bulls

Grade: A

Biggest strength: Pawan Kumar Sehrawat's ability to run the show.

Biggest weakness: Their ability to score points at will.

Best player: Pawan Kumar Sehrawat is the leading scorer this season and is also joint-top for the most Super 10s this season.

Watchability: 9.5/10 - Bengaluru have always been a high-scoring team. They always try to control the pace and tempo of the match, very rarely trying to slow down the game.

What they must improve: The team needs to play better when Pawan is consigned to the bench. Just like in seasons past, they have often been at their most vulnerable when he has been tackled.

Patna Pirates

Grade: A+

Biggest strength: Variety in raiding department. Monu Goyat, Prashanth Kumar Rai, and Sachin have distinct styles of play and defenders have struggled to contain them.

Biggest weakness: The right corner position has been a problem over the years and that has remained the same this season.

Best player: Mohammadreza Chiyaneh was the most expensive foreign buy at this year's auction and he has led Patna's defence admirably.

Watchability: 9/10 - One of the most balanced sides in the league, Patna have played as a team and their bigger names have shown plenty of leadership skills.

What they must improve: They have been extremely impressive but their raiders have sometimes been guilty of being overeager to put in tackles in defence.

Bengal Warriors

Grade: B

Biggest strength: Maninder Singh has been their standout player yet again.

Biggest weakness: Their two big Iranian imports have failed to deliver in the big moments.

Best player: Maninder Singh's raw power and game awareness have proved to be a handful yet again.

Watchability: 7/10 - Maninder in full flow is a delight but it's a pity that Abozar Mighani and Mohammad Nabibakhsh have been nowhere close to their best.

What they must improve: Their defending has been plain awful at times and has let the raiders down.

UP Yoddha

Grade: C

Biggest strength: The ability of their raiders to score multi-point raids under pressure has served them well.

Biggest weakness: Their lack of bench strength and depth might prove crucial in the final stages of the season.

Best player: Surender Gill is having his breakout season and has even outperformed Pardeep Narwal, which is a big deal.

Watchability: 8/10. Any team that has Pardeep, Nitesh Kumar, Shrikant Jadhav and Sumit Kumar will always rank high on this factor.

What they must improve: Consistency. Pardeep Narwal has blown hot and cold and has not been the unstoppable force that we had grown accustomed to seeing.

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Grade: C

Biggest strength: Arjun Deshwal's ability to strike under pressure has kept them in playoffs contention.

Biggest weakness: Other than the prolific Deshwal, they have not had much to write home about.

Best player: Big names have struggled but Deshwal has repaid the faith in some style.

Watchability: 5/10 - Jaipur tend to put in extremely fluctuating performances and have generally lacked repeatability in performances.

What they must improve: They have rarely clicked together as a team and Deepak Niwas Hooda's decline is a concern.

Tamil Thalaivas

Grade: B

Biggest strength: Not giving up at any stage of the match.

Biggest weakness: Thalaivas have tied five of their 11 matches and holding on to leads or closing out games has been a problem for them.

Best player: Playing in just his second season in the league, young Sagar has been one of the best defenders in PKL 8.

Watchability: 7/10. Their raiders might not be the easiest on the eye but their defenders are high on skill and game awareness, putting in a masterclass or two already.

What they must improve: Their raiding department lacks a standout name and they will need someone to take charge of the same to support their impressive defence.

U Mumba

Grade: C

Biggest strength: Fazel Atrachali is having a quiet season but he has led a young team well.

Biggest weakness: After starting brightly, they have seemed to slow down as the season has gone on.

Best player: Mumba have backed Abhishek Singh for a few seasons now and he has put in a few standout performances this time.

Watchability: 6/10 - Mumba have always been an organised side but they are not the same with Fazel being a lot more sedate.

What they must improve: They have done well to lose only three matches so far but they need to convert their ties into wins.

Haryana Steelers

Grade: C+

Biggest strength: Rakesh Kumar's astuteness as coach has served them well.

Biggest weakness: Three of their five losses have come in close games and as a young team, their inexperience has cost them sometimes.

Best player: Vikash Kandola has been his usual skilled self and watching him go about his business unfazed can be therapeutic.

Watchability: 8/10 - Their cover combination is not one to die wondering and Vikash and Surender Nada have delivered their fair share of magic moments.

What they must improve: They have been unlucky to be where they are in the points table but they have shown a tendency to taper off as the match goes on, which is something they need to be mindful of.

Gujarat Giants

Grade: D-

Biggest strength: The two Rakeshs have worked well in tandem.

Biggest weakness: They seemed to have the best defence on paper but it has turned out to be a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth.

Best player: Rakesh. The team is full of big names but it is the young raider who has saved them the blushes.

Watchability: 5/10 - They have the potential to be title contenders but their defenders have not done justice to their lofty reputations.

What they must improve: Defending. Ravinder Pahal, Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal need to stand up.

Puneri Paltan

Grade: E

Biggest strength: Anup Kumar still remains as calm as ever in the coach's corner.

Biggest weakness: Rahul Chaudhari and Nitin Tomar are shadows of the players they once used to be.

Best player: Aslam Inamdar can raid and he's more than willing to get involved in the action in defence too.

Watchability: 4/10 - Other than when Anup is giving out pearls of wisdom or when Aslam is on the prowl, they have been slow and dreary at most times.

What they must improve: They need to maybe start investing more in their young players and groom them for the next season.

Telugu Titans

Grade: F

Biggest strength: Rajnish has been the lone saving grace.

Biggest weakness: Siddharth Desai missing eight games through injury has hit them hard.

Best player: Rajnish has done his best to step into the void left by Siddharth but he's not in the same class.

Watchability: 4/10 - They did a poor job at the auctions and have tried to hang in after Siddharth's early injury, but it has been tough for them as well as their fans.

What they must improve: When you win one of 11 matches, you pretty much need to improve on everything.