With the Pro Kabaddi League in its third season, raiders have started losing their sheen in the league, which is now increasingly favouring defenders. A look at the league statistics for the first three seasons proves that teams have become more defence-oriented, possibly due to the fact that even nabbing a raider can earn a team one point, or two in the case of a super raid.
In Season 1, Telugu Titans had the most successful raids per match (the average points earned by a team from raids) at 19.42. Bengaluru Bulls were last in the table at 14.06. In Season 2, Titans were again foremost in the table, albeit with a figure of 16.56. Bengal Warriors brought up the rear with 9.57 points. In stark contrast, Season 3’s top team with respect to most successful raids per match is Patna Pirates with just 13 points -- lower than even the last team in season 1. U Mumba are last this season with an average of just 9.67.
In contrast, the successful tackles per match have gone up. Jaipur Pink Panthers were the top team in the successful tackles per match standings with 9.87 points in Season 1. In Season 2, U Mumba led the table with 11.25 points while in Season 3, Pune are on top with 11.5 points -- a statistic which clearly shows that defenders are holding sway this season.
While U Mumba’s Anup Kumar emerged as the best raider of season 1 with 155 points, Dabang Delhi’s Kashiling Adake took the honours in the second season with just 114 points. The gulf between the two seasons got even wider when it comes to other raiders in the standings.
In Season 1, 10 raiders got over 100 raid points in the league stages -- Anup, Telugu Titans’ Rahul Chaudhuri (151 points), Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Maninder Singh (130), Bengaluru Bulls’ Ajay Thakur (122), Delhi’s Adake (113), Bulls’ Surjeet Narwal (113), Patna Pirates’ Ravi Dalal (111), Pink Panthers’ Jasvir Singh (106), Puneri Paltan’s Wazir Singh (104) and Bengal Warrior’s Nitin Madane (101).
By contrast, apart from Adake, not even one raider could get to the three-figure mark -- Titans’ Chaudhuri had 98 points while Bulls’ Thakur was third with 79 points.
Explaining the teams’ shifting focus to defence, Mumbai’s coach Bhaskaran Edachery said, “In the first season, players didn’t know each other too well. Also, most teams did not have perfect players for each position. If a team had a good right cover, they would have a weak right corner. So in the second season, they picked the right players and that’s why they are good defensively.”
Telugu Titans’ assistant coach Srinivas Reddy believes that teams’ tactics have evolved.
“Now teams have the benefit of videos from previous season to analyse opposition raiders for flaws in their game. After watching these videos, teams are coming up with game plans for thwart raiders. In the first season, teams did not have any videos. Hence, the drop in raiding points for every team,” Reddy said.