Gujarat Fortunegiants took to Pro Kabaddi like fish to water. Coached by the inspirational Manpreet Singh, the young side went all the way to the final in their debut season.
With few star names in their ranks, the Fortunegiants were expected to just make up the numbers when they entered the fray in the fifth edition of Pro Kabaddi. But player-turned coach Manpreet Singh had other ideas.
He built his team around the two corner defenders: Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mohajermighani. In the raiding department, Sachin Tanwar, an unknown quantity till then, was the star for the Fortunegiants, who unearthed many stars including cover defenders Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar in that campaign.
By the time the final came around, they had rightly earned the favourites tag against Patna Pirates, having topped Zone A in the league phase. But the Fortunegiants were undone by the excellence of Pardeep Narwal who handed Patna their third title.
Despite losing Fazel and Abozar in their second season, the Fortunegiants were able to replicate their heroics and made yet another final thanks to their added raiding might. Raiders like K Prapanjan and Ashish Kumar were bought in the auctions, while Mahendra Rajput and Rohit Gulia stepped up to the plate. This time, they lost to Bengaluru Bulls in the final and were at the receiving end of Pawan Sehrawat’s heroics.
With Gujarat failing at the final hurdle on the last two occasions, Manpreet Singh will be determined to go one better this time. With most of their players from last season retained, Gujarat will be a force to be reckoned with again.
Past record for Gujarat FG in Pro Kabaddi
|Season 5||Finished top of Zone A. Lost to Patna Pirates in the final|
|Season 6||Finished top of Zone A. Lost to Bengaluru Bulls in the final|
The Fortunegiants retained star raider Sachin and captain Sunil Kumar. Like last season, they regained their cover defender Parvesh Bhainswal by using the FBM card for Rs 75 lakh. Apart from Bhianswal, Gujarat made some shrewd purchases in right-corner defender Ruturaj Koravi (Rs 30 Lakh), veteran raider Vinod Kumar (Rs 26 lakh).
Do-or-die specialist GB More was also acquired for a fair price of Rs 21.5 lakh. Once again, the Gujarat side is devoid of star names, but it’s a ploy that has always worked for them.
Gujarat will once again base their challenge on their defence. With three out of their four key defenders last season still at the franchise for the upcoming season, Manpreet Singh’s side is once again expected to give nightmares to the raiders.
The cover combination of Parvesh and Sunil is the best in kabaddi and Manpreet Singh’s utilisation of the two players makes Gujarat defence the best in the league. The due can also play as auxiliary corners when the team is short in numbers.
With the departure of Prapanjan and Ashish Kumar, Gujarat’s raiding department might be a bit weak. The onus will be on Sachin to do the bulk of the scoring on the raids. Rohit Gulia will be his deputy. Although the all-rounder had a decent campaign last season, he will have to step up in the absence of other supporting raiders. Vinod Kumar and GB More will be the other options in the raiding department but neither are very prolific.
Manpreet Singh led Patna Pirates to their maiden PKL title in season 3 as a player. He also represented India from 2000 to 2007, winning the Asian Games gold medals in 2002 and 2006.
After becoming the youngest coach in Pro Kabaddi in the fifth season, he has left a mark on the league. Known for spotting and developing unheralded talents, Manpreet has helped Gujarat produce many top players in the two seasons.
A great motivator, Manpreet often gets the best out of his players. This is evident from the fact that Gujarat Fortunegiants have made two straight finals despite lacking in experience.
Player to watch out for: Ruturaj Koravi
The right-corner defender made his debut in Pro Kabaddi last season where he scored 47 tackle points at an average of 1.9. However, his strike rate was low at just 39. The Maharashtrian defender shot to prominence in his state side’s national championship victory in 2017 where he was among the top defenders.
He grew into his role with the Fortunegiants last campaign as the season progressed and would be expected to hit the ground running in the upcoming season.
If Koravi can play to his potential, the Fortunegiants’ defence would be further strengthened, making Manpreet Singh’s unit a very hard one to beat.
Raiders: Abhishek, Abolfazl Maghsoudloumahali (Iran), Gurvinder Singh, Harmanjit Singh, Lalit Choudhary, GB More, Sachin Tanwar, Sonu
Defenders: Amit Kharb, Ankit, Parvesh Bhainswal, Sunil Gahlawat, Sunil Kumar, Sumit Malik, Ruturaj Koravi
All-rounders: Pankaj, Rohit Gulia, Mohammad Hossain (Bangladesh), Vinod Kumar