The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) till date has seen some nail-biting matches and some new stars emerging every season. While many have been suffering ups and downs, some fresh faces have lit up the PKL with some stellar performances. One such name is Pawan Kumar Sehrawat.
Today, Pawan Sehrawat is among the top names in the PKL. His ability to surprise defenders with his particular long reach; his signature running hand touches make him a worthy opponent to face.
At just 23 years, Pawan is among the top players in Indian Kabaddi; helped Bengaluru Bulls to their first-ever title and has been named the League’s Most Valuable Player in 2018.
|Full Name||Pawan Kumar Sehrawat|
|Date of Birth||July 9, 1996|
|Teams Played for||Gujarat Fortune Giants, Bengaluru Bulls|
Pawan Kumar Sehrawat was born on the 9th of July 1996 in the city of Delhi and had begun playing Kabaddi by 12. “I was quite healthy as a kid, and it was quite natural that I used to do well against the thinner kids on the kabaddi mat.”
“But it wasn’t till I was in the ninth standard that I thought of playing it seriously. No one in my family has played the sport, so we didn’t think of it as a career,” Pawan remembers. Pawan first played at the school Nationals, and then in the All India University Games.
In 2015, Pawan was in his second year of graduation. However, Randhir Singh spotted the then 18-year-old raider in the Northern Railways trials and offered him a job with the railways. Within the year the Bengaluru based PKL franchise signed him up.
Pawan’s mother wanted him to focus much on education. His mother used to quote a famous Hindi line: ‘Padhoge likhoge to banoge nawab’ meaning if you study, you will be respected. “She wanted me to study well. But I didn’t enjoy it as much. Also, I don’t like working too hard. In school, I used to play Kabaddi,” he says.
Pawan had to take up responsibility at the age of 18. His father’s plastic recycling factory shut down, leaving the family living on the earnings from a small grocery shop. Pawan later dropped out from college when he got a job as a TTE with the Indian Railways due to Kabaddi. Once his financial woes got over, Pawan did go and complete his under graduation with Delhi University.
Pawan represents the Indian Railways in senior nationals, and in the past few years has impressed many. He was playing as a defender a few years back. It was only in the Railways team he took up the new role of a raider. Pawan has been impressive in his performance there.
His performances at the 65th Senior National Kabaddi Championships as well as in the Federation Cup made him a lucrative property in the auction. In a match against Karnataka, he single-handly scored a staggering 18 points in the Senior Nationals. He continued his excellent form into the Federation Cup as well.
Pawan started playing for the Bengaluru Bulls in the Pro Kabaddi League at the age of 20. In his debut season with the Bulls, Pawan started 13 of the 14 games and finished with 53 points, the Bulls’ leading raider in points. However, the following season, Pawan featured only ten times while scoring a mere 11 points.
One of the reasons he got limited opportunities was the addition of Season 3 MVP Rohit Kumar and Deepak Kumar Dahiya. Sehrawat went down in the pecking order and hence had limited opportunities.
However, a young Sehrawat’s talent did not go unnoticed. He was purchased for ₹ 13.8 lakhs by PKL debutant Gujarat Fortune Giants. However, Sehrawat had a poor season due to a combination of not playing enough and unable to take his chances.
“They had bought me for some 14 lakhs. I thought they had spent so much and I couldn’t do anything. Maybe, next year no one will even give ₹8 Lakh for me. There were so many experienced players had gone unsold. I was thinking maybe I should quit the League; leave before they throw me out. I work as a TT at New Delhi station, which is quite close to my house, so I was thinking I will just concentrate on my job.”
However, life always gives you second chances. This time Bengaluru Bulls, his former team, gave him a second chance.
Randhir Singh, the coach who spotted him during for Railways, brought him back to the Southern city for ₹52.8 lakhs. “He (Randhir) called me up after season 5 and told me not to be disheartened,” Sehrawat recalls.
“He said he will bring me back to Bengaluru Bulls, and helped me to regain my confidence. Bengaluru bought me for Rs 52.8 lakhs; the price did not matter. I was just looking for a chance to do well.” Unaffected by his heavy price, Sehrawat showed why he was paid big money.
On his second debut with the franchise, Sherawat scored 20 points against the Tamil Thalaivas. He went on to bulldozed through defences with his strength and speed. Pawan Kumar led Bengaluru Bulls to the final; where he scored a record high of 22 points while denying his former team with the trophy.
He finished the season with the highest points- 282; highest raid points- 271; most successful raids- 209 and most super raids-12. Pawan won the coveted Most Valuable Player, and, boy, did he deserve it! Speaking after the season, the humble Delhite confesses, he “wanted to do my best for the team, but I never thought I’d do it so well, lead my team to the title or finish as the MVP.”
Pawan’s promising performances continued in the next season as he aims to break into the Indian team. With skipper Rohit Kumar’s form dip, Pawan Kumar took up responsibility as the Bulls breezed into their way into the playoffs. Showing he is not just a ‘one season miracle’, Sehrawat scored 360 points in 24 games; and he did so in record-breaking fashion.
In the match against Haryana Steelers, Pawan broke Pradeep Narwal’s record of 34 raid points in a single PKL game, by amassing 39 points. Against the eventual winners- Bengal Warriors, he scored 29 points, the third-highest in the history of the League. Kumar again finished as the MVP of the season.
With the score standing at 20-23 and just under 2 minutes into the second half of the match between Bengaluru and Patna, raider Pawan Kumar Sehrawat entered the opposition’s half to cut his team’s deficit. Patna Pirates’ corner defender Ravinder Kumar knew when he charged from Sehrawat to tackle him.
Sehrawat had rushed across the mat to attempt a ‘Running Hand Touch’, and Ravinder Kumar used Sehrawat’s blindside to place himself perfectly between the midline and the raider. The odds were slanted against Sehrawat in this situation. He couldn’t go around the defender as his path was blocked, making the options for Sehrawat’s escape were dreary.
Perhaps he would have to fly over the defender, but that couldn’t be possibly attained. Pawan leapt over Kumar and even managed to land on his feet, before striking a pose for the cameras. The home crowd went berserk.