Siddharth Desai, 27, became the most expensive buy at the Pro Kabaddi 2019 Auction with Telugu Titans splurging Rs 1.45 crore for him after an impressive start to his PKL career last season. With the price tag, he became the second most expensive player overall – behind only the Rs 1.51 crore paid for Monu Goyat last season.
IN NUMBERS: Pro Kabaddi season VII auction
With a base price of Rs 30 lakh, Telugu Titans highlighted Desai’s importance to teams early on by moving on to bid Rs 1 crore directly. They then saw competition from Tamil Thalaivas for the raider’s services. After much back and forth, he was acquired by Telugu Titans with U Mumba not exercising their Final Bid Match (FBM) card.
Desai was always expected to invite high bids after he had made a glorious start to his career with 218 raid points last year at 10.38 per game, behind only Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and the prolific Pardeep Narwal. Such was the debutant’s dominance that he collected more than twice the number of raid points for U Mumba than his nearest competitor.
He amassed 221 points in the 2018 season – 218 raid points – the third best in the season; had 169 successful raids; 10 super raids and 12 Super 10s. If that doesn’t take his stock up, Jaipur Pink Panthers owner Abhishek Bachchan’s words in the pre-auction press conference certainly alerted everyone.
“Any team would be foolish to not go for Siddharth Desai. He is fit, the league has provided us medical reports. He had insane stats last season, he’s a monster on the mat and off the mat he is a lovely person,” Bachchan said.
“U Mumba would be foolish not to retain him. You bid for the temperament, not just the talent. The whole package. That’s why I talk about Sid Desai, he has a down to earth attitude,” he added.
Desai’s jubilation was palpable when we spoke to him over the phone. “I am in Mumbai and watching the auction. As soon as Telugu Titans bid Rs 1 crore for me, I started dancing. I was expecting Rs 70-80 lakhs,” he said.
“I am from a poor household. My father is a farmer and I am aware of the effort it takes to become a kabaddi sportsperson. I will help the young and local players with the money I’ve earned,” Desai said.
Also entering the crorepati club was Nitin Tomar, who saw a bidding war between UP Yoddha and Tamil Thalaivas. He was acquired by Tamil Thalaivas before Puneri Paltan opted to use the FBM card to retain him for Rs 1.20 crore.
Goyat, who became the most expensive non-cricket auction buy last year, took a pay cut after a dismal season where he scored just 160 points from 20 matches. Yet, he emerged with a smart paycheque of Rs 93 lakhs from UP Yoddha.
Ahead of Goyat was Rahul Chaudhari, who has 825 raid points on his CV, and went to Tamil Thalaivas for Rs 94 lakhs. Labelled the ‘Raid Machine’, Chaudhari has finished in the top-five scorers in five out of the previous six seasons. What also highlights his experience and ability to withstand pressure is the fact that Rahul ranks third in the all-time raid points scored in Do-Or-Die situations