The Puneri Paltan went on to win the Pro Kabaddi League Season 10 title with Pankaj Mohite being adjudged the player of the match in the final.

The Puneri Paltan finished the league stage of the Pro Kabaddi League season with a new competition record of 253-point difference. A quick look at the stats sheet though declares that none of their raiders – the attacking position in the sport which pile up points faster than defenders – made it to the top 10 list of highest scoring raiders.

This was a young team that relied more on the depth of their squad rather than on an individual player to bail them out. Each player had their own role to play. And Pankaj Mohite, the third-choice raider of the team, worked rather effectively in his role.

Agile and pacy, the 24-year-old from Mumbai has been the Paltan’s go-to-raider in the do-or-die situation (when an attacker is required to go for a point after the team registers two successive empty raids).

“The coach [RB Ramesh] told us to not think about the fact that it is a do-or-die raid and to just treat the atmosphere like any other raid – we just have to get a point and that’s all,” Mohite said to Scroll, summarising his mindset when heading into the raid.

Mohite has scored 80 crucial raid points and 14 tackle points en route to the Paltan making it to the semi-finals. He has become one of the team’s vital cogs in the team he has been playing for since 2019, when he was recruited as part of the New Young Player program.

But there was a time when the raider had been advised against playing the sport to help his family recover from a financial struggle they were facing.

His father, the only bread-winner of the family, had passed away when Mohite was 14, leaving him and his mother to work odd jobs to make ends meet.

“People in my family, including my mother, tried to convince me to give up kabaddi,” he said.

“But I stuck to my desire and eventually my mother and sisters started to support me.”

With his family in his corner, his seniors at the Ganesh Sports Club in Mumbai helped him develop his craft in local tournaments. His talent saw him being sought after by a few other local teams before he joined Air India, a team coached by former Puneri Paltan coach Ashok Shinde.


When Mohite earned a call-up to the PKL team though, he found himself under the tutelage of Asian Games winner and former India captain Anup Kumar – a Pro Kabaddi League legend.

“Work hard and believe in yourself – this is the main thing he said in the couple of years we spent together,” said Mohite on Kumar’s contribution.

“He used to give us lots of motivation, whether we would score points or get caught during a raid. It helped us to become more confident and bring up our attitude also.”

The coaches over the years provided him with insights and guidance to better hone his skills. However, there is one belief that Mohite subscribes to – the need to be well-versed in both defending and raiding, even for raiders like himself.

He has not shied away from getting into a tackle while defending. Mohite said this is all just a part of the thinking of the younger players coming up in the sport.

At a press interaction ahead of the playoffs, Pune coach Ramesh lauded the contributions of the youngsters, not just on his team, but across the other five playoff teams. He termed it as “a win for kabaddi” and hoped that this success would translate into a better future for younger talent.

Mohite is one of those prospective talents.