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.
The Indian Super League 2016 has run its course for the first week. All the eight teams have played a minimum of two games each and North East United and Mumbai City—two teams who haven’t gone past the league play in the first two seasons—are topping the standings.
Entertainment has not been in great supply although we have seen a few intriguing battles; the goal rate of 1.88 per game suggests the same. Only two Indian players have found the net this season, but both North East and Mumbai City have ridden on solid performances from the local boys en route their good results this term.
Here are the top Indian performers from week one of the Indian Super League.
Subrata Pal // 29 // North East United // Goalkeeper
His was a signing that baffled many, because of the presence of another fine Indian goalkeeper in North East’s ranks: TP Rehenesh. But Subrata has lived up to his top billing and his reputation as a shot stopper.
Subrata has conceded only once in three games, none from open play, and his general command of his area and greater experience has given North East a solid look about their defence. Subrata has kept two clean sheets thus far, and only Chennaiyin’s Duwayne Kerr has made more saves than his 11.
Kean Lewis // 24 // Delhi Dynamos // Forward
Lewis has been a breath of fresh air for Gianluca Zambrotta’s Delhi Dynamos with his boundless energy and quality in the final third. The 24-year-old has been a key cog in the Dynamos’ attacking trident, making his team one of the best to watch this season.
Despite being a tad profligate, Lewis has made the right noises this term and his three shots and 67 percent shots to shots on target conversion ratio have marked him out as one of Delhi’s most potent threats up top. His partnership with Richard Gadze and Marcelinho in Delhi’s attack is eminently watchable.
Holicharan Narzary // 22 // North East United // Forward
Narzary produced the assist of the season when his delightful flick set Emiliano Alfaro one on one with Laxmikanth Kattimani in the game against FC Goa. The 22-year-old local lad has caught the fancy of his fans, and will hope he comes of age this season.
Narzary started in the two games that North East have won so far. His trickery on the ball and ability to see the right pass stand him in good stead, and judging by his early season performances, Narzary will be expected to raise the roof in Guwahati every time he gets on the pitch.
Rowllin Borges // 24 // North East United // Midfielder
Borges has taken to North East United like a duck to water and his assured displays at the heart of his side’s midfield has translated into a fine start for the Highlanders.
Borges has been the most prolific passer this season, and his partnership in midfield with Romaric has added more control for North East in buildup play and better security against counter attacks. Often unheralded, Borges is one of the signings of the season.
Sandesh Jhingan // 23 // Kerela Blasters // Defender
Despite Kerala’s underwhelming start to the season where they have failed to collect a win in their first three matches, Jhingan has been a bright spot for Steve Coppell’s Blasters.
The burly defender has had the most defensive actions of any Indian thus far. He was instrumental in Kerala’s 0-0 draw at home against Delhi Dynamos on Sunday, and his team will be hoping he carries on his good form to help the Blasters recover from a poor start.
Abhijit Bharali is a freelance football writer who specializes in analytical writing. A first generation Liverpool fan, and an engineering undergrad. You can find some of his other work here: https://thenutcrackfootball.wordpress.com/
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