Mind and Money Games: Auction 2017

“…..and the hammer’s going down, anyone for 19 lakhs last chance….going down, and Hadi Oshtorak SOLD to U MUMBA for 18.5 lakhs”. Thus started what was a very long auction for the players for Prokabaddi Season 5. The auction was so intense that even an experienced guy like Bob had lots of little slip of tongues in terms of prices.

Bob Hayton well known for his previous stints in almost all of India’s premier sports league auctions was a very busy man for 14 hours in two days where 12 teams bid for their players from a pool of 430 players with a combined purse of 48 Crores. With 4 new teams joining the fray and the purse doubled for each team, it was all or nothing for all the teams. The auction rules also got complicated as dynamic pricing was included in the rules meaning if you retain a player, his price won’t be fixed as in previous season but will be 10% more than the highest bid player in the same category by the same team. Let me explain this with an example, Anup Kumar was retained by U Mumba at 35 lakhs but if they buy say Rishank for 70 lakhs, Anup’s price will go up 10% more than that of Rishank. He will be paid 77 lakhs and this introduced a lot of complications for teams retaining players as they had to take this to account while building the team.

Out of the eight teams, seven retained one player and Jaipur Pink Panthers did not retain anyone. The new teams were given the chance of choosing any elite player from the set of Category A players and 3 of the new franchisees chose a player and Uttar Pradesh chose not to choose any and try their hand at the auctions. The Kabaddi World cup held in October had a huge effect as foreign players were more in demand than last auction especially the Iranians who played the finals against India.

Bengal Warriors

Retained player: Jang Kun Lee (South Korea)

Prominent buys: Surjeet Singh (73 lakhs), Ran Singh, Maninder Singh, Deepak Narwal

Foreign players: Jang Kun Lee, Young Chang Ko

With the mediocre performances in all seasons except for season 3, Bengal will be looking for redemption this season and they did go all out for buying their Right Cover Surjeet Singh from services. But due to dynamic pricing rule, price of their retained player rose to 80.3 lakhs which had an effect on their purse. They won’t be having the services of their captain for the last four seasons Nilesh Shinde or Vishal Mane this season. But they have reinforced their defense with Ran Singh for the corner and in raiding Maninder Singh (Season 1 top scorer from Jaipur Pink Panthers who led them to the title) and Deepak Narwal (Scored the winning point for Patna in Season 3). They have three good raiders with sufficient backup in Bhupender Singh and Vinod Kumar. But defensive options are less as they do not have a seasoned right corner and left cover which could be exploited by the other teams; they are heavily depending on the raiders to win their matches. Their young players will have to step up in defense and also Maninder Singh and Deepak will have to step up to support Jang Kun Lee for Bengal to have a good season. Suggestion for captain: Ran Singh He has already captained Jaipur and is a seasoned defender who can be effective during super tackle situations as well. They had money left in the end, could have spent more for some better B or A category players. With a long season and some players who are injury prone, they could have a problem by the middle of season.

Bengaluru Bulls

Retained player: Ashish Sangwan (India)

Prominent buys: Rohit Kumar (81 Lakhs), Ajay Kumar, Ravinder Pahal

Foreign players: Sinotharan Kanesharaja, Sanjay Shreshta

After a great second season where they lost a close finals to U Mumba, the bulls could never repeat the glory finishing in the bottom half of the table for the last two seasons. On paper they were thought to be one of the strongest in the last season with Rohit Kumar and the defensive combo of Surender Nada and Mohit Chillar. But it was not to be as the other players could not support them well. This time, as usual Coach Randheer Singh has kept his trust on young players and has retained Ashish Sangwan who is a category B player hence saving the team from the dynamic pricing in Category A players. This helped the team break the bank for Rohit kumar, their right corner is secure in the hands of former Dabang and Paltan Ravinder Pahal. They also ensured Rohit will have ample support in raiding (unlike last season) by roping in Ajay Kumar from Jaipur for 48.5 lakhs. They have a good raiding unit with Gurvinder Singh also in support to the above mentioned and young raiders like Sumit and Harish Naik. Ashish Sangwan can also raid apart from being a right cover; this gives them enough choices when it comes to raiding. But it is not the case in case of defense where the covers are not strong enough. Left corner which is a very critical position will have to be manned by young players which can be crucial.

Dabang Delhi K.C

Retained Player: Meraj Sheykh(Iran)

Prominent buys: Nilesh Shinde, Suraj Desai(52.5 Lakhs), Bajirao hodage (44.5 Lakhs)

Dabang Delhi with consistently poor performances in the previous seasons were looking for redemption in the auction for season 5, they had their fair share of talent in all seasons, but something was missing which could not make them into a team. By retaining the Iranian, they might have just found that secret sauce. They bought the cautious Nilesh Shinde for their right corner who can also lead the side with his experience along with Sunil for the left corner, who will be hoping for a good performance this season after a bad season with U Mumba. They have the Maharashtrian Bajirao Hodage manning the Right Cover and Meraj manning the left cover. Defense is strong but they have no strong backup for key defense positions. In the raiding department, they have Ravi Dalal after an average season with Bengal Warriors, Rohit Baliyan after a non playing stint last season with the Bulls, Abolfazel with a title winning season with Pirates (He was very effective in the do or die and near all out situations, scoring points during crunch situations) and to support them; Suraj Desai, a young Services raider who was in high demand during the auction. They have a good first team, but not the bench strength which is needed in this long season. They have put their money in a lot of players who have the potential, but have not shown it in their performances. Suggestion for Captain: Meraj Sheykh/Nilesh Shinde

Both of them were captains last season and did a fair job. I guess they might go for Nilesh to be captain to let Meraj play free without the responsibility burdening his performance.

Team Gujarat

First pick : Fazel atrachali (Iran)

Prominent Buys: Abozar Mohajer, Sukesh Hegde

One of the four new teams in the auction, they did not have anybody to retain so they were given the option to pick a player from the Elite category as their star pick, Gujarat picked the Iranian Fazel who is one of the best Left corners now in pro Kabaddi. Team owners realized the importance of a good defense and paid well for Iranian Abozar to partner Fazel. In the raiding department they have got Sukesh Hegde who played second fiddle to Rahul in Telugu Titans will now lead the lines for Gujarat. But other than that there are no prominent names in the raiding department. although some youngsters like MG Rajput and Rakesh Narwal will try to prove their mettle. They have opted for second string covers as well so the other teams might exploit that region. They could have gone higher for a few more good players to make it a balanced squad, now it all depends on how the lesser known players perform.

Haryana Steelers

First pick: Surender Nada

Prominent Buys: Mohit chillar(47.5 lakhs),Surjeeth Singh, Wazir Singh

One of the new teams picked Surender Nada as their first pick and also bought Mohit chillar to keep the brothers of destruction in the same team. No other left and right corners have been on the same team since the beginning of Pro Kabaddi. So their corners are set and most likely Surender Nada will captain the side. They also could not get two good covers so have to rely on lesser known players like Jeeva Gopal, Mahendra Singh Dhaka etc. In the raiding department, Surjeeth Singh who was with the Pirates last season will spearhead Haryana’s attack ably supported by Prashant Kumar rai, Sonu Narwal and Wazir Singh. although it remains to be seen how effective can the injury prone Wazir Singh and Sonu Narwal who had an average season with Pune perform and support the team’s cause.

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Prominent Buys: Manjeet chillar, Jasvir Singh

The only team from the eight teams to not retain a player. Because of this strategic move Jaipur were not affected by the dynamic pricing and had a bigger purse which allowed them to go all out for Manjeet Chillar;the gamechanger who was not retained by Puneri Paltan even after a superb performance in Season 4. By getting Manjeet they secured a captain, a brilliant strategist and a left corner/cover player flexible to play in both positions and one of the best in that position. They also re-united him with Somvir Shekhar playing right cover which is a good combination. Abhishek Bacchan; the owner of the panthers had set his eyes on their star raider from the last season -Jasvir Singh and they scooped him up for a hefty price tag. They also competed heavily for the tall lanky raider Selvamani with the new Tamilnadu team in the end getting him for 73 Lakhs. Their covers are strong, raiding is pretty good, but they lack a good right corner and with three senior players in the team, if an injury occurs, they lack the bench strength to overcome the difficult period.

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