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The Indian Super League had an encouraging start in its inaugural season. While this site would like to see more young Indian talents given a chance in the starting line-up, the presence of any Indian footballers taking the field alongside experienced professionals is encouraging. In this weekly mini-series, we take a look at the best Indian performers.
As winter is slowly setting in, the goals in the Indian Super League have threatened to dry up. Only 13 of them were scored in the six games of week five, with the highest scoring game being a 2–2 draw between Pune City and Goa on Sunday. But the games have retained their entertainment factor, and there were quite a few surprising results, most notably NorthEast United’s win on the road over holders Atletico de Kolkata and Robin Singh’s late heroics to deny Mumbai City their first away win of the campaign.
Following is a look at the top five Indian players from week five.
TP Rehenesh // 22 // NorthEast United // Goalkeeper: The young shot stopper was in fine form again as he guided the Highlanders to an unbeaten week against two of the supposedly stronger teams in the league, Delhi Dynamos and Atletico de Kolkata. Rehenesh made a string of fine saves on the way to NorthEast’s double over holders Atletico, while also keeping the likes of John Arne Riise and Florent Malouda out in the game against Delhi.
Rahul Bheke // 24 // Kerala Blasters // Right-Back: Bheke has been one of the finds of this season’s Indian Super League. The right-back, who was deployed as a wing-back by ex-manager Peter Taylor, returned to a more conventional full-back role and was one of the main attacking outlets for Kerala Blasters, who turned in one of the most one-sided attacking displays this season. The Blasters had a season-high 32 shots against Pune City, and Bheke was one of the key components of the way they attacked.
Saumik Dey // 31 // Kerala Blasters // Left-Back: Along with Bheke, Saumik on the left-hand side was another of Kerala’s attacking threats from the back. The experienced 31-year-old bombed forward with ease and overlapped with aplomb as Kerala laid siege to Pune City’s goal. The fact the Blasters sent in 32 crosses is testament to the work put in by their two full-backs, Bheke and Saumik.
Robin Singh // 25 // Delhi Dynamos // Striker: The India international will be busy with national team commitments this week and he made sure he left on a high as his last-gasp goal for the Dynamos denied Mumbai City their first away win of the season. It was somewhat symbolic that Robin, who also scored on his return to the Delhi set-up after last month’s international break, left on a high. Although he failed to find the net in Delhi’s draw with NorthEast, he made sure he was a nuisance up front.
Mohammed Rafique // 23 // Atletico de Kolkata // Central Midfielder: The 23-year-old midfielder worked his socks off in Atletico’s loss to NorthEast United, and was one of the few bright spots for his side. Rafique, who is a central midfielder by trade, played as a winger and was constantly seen motoring forward into wider areas. Although his end product left a lot to be desired, his hunger and commitment to the cause was one of the more vivid aspects of Atletico’s surprisingly blunt attack.
Written by Abhijit Bharali