Former India captain Anup Kumar, Korea's Jang Kun Lee and Iran's Meraj Sheykh are among the select elite players who have been retained by seven franchises for the fifth VIVO Pro Kabaddi starting in July.
As many as seven players have been retained by the franchise, while over 350 players will be a part of Season 5 auctions slated for May 22nd-23rd in New Delhi.
Recurring captain of U-Mumba for the past 4 seasons, Anup was retained by his franchise for his yeoman service where he led U-Mumba to three finals, winning the trophy in Season 2.
"I am obliged to be retained by my family, my team U- Mumba for the 4th consecutive season," Anup said.
"VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 is going to be bigger and better in terms of 4 new teams, more matches, longer duration and endless action on the mat.
Most successful raider in PKL history, Rahul, who was awarded the best raider title twice in seasons 1 and 4, was retained by Telugu Titans.
Rahul said: "I am delighted. I am looking forward to the auctions to see the composition of the team where we are expecting new talent to participate as well."
All-rounder, Meraj, who had captained Iran to the Kabaddi World Cup finals, was retained by Dabang Delhi KC, while South Korean raider Jang Kun Lee will turn up for Bengal Warriors for the fifth season too.
Among others, defender Ashish Kumar is the only category B player to be retained this season by Bengaluru Bulls, while Pardeep Narwal, who bagged the Emerging Player Award in Season 3 and Most Valuable Player in Season 4, was retained by two- time champion Patna Pirates.
All-rounder, Deepak Hooda, who is known for scoring the 3rd highest raid points in Season 4, too was retained by Puneri Paltan. Jaipur Pink Panthers is the only team that didn't retain any player.
"It's great to be back to continue playing for Puneri Paltan. Our team put up a powerful performance in Season 4, and we will take the competition a notch higher in the 5th season," Deepak said.
Recently, Mashal Sports, organizer and administrator of the league and its parent organization STAR India, announced the inclusion of four new teams that will participate in Season 5 of the league.
The four new franchises will be represented by Iquest Enterprises Private Limited (Consortium) (Tamil Nadu), Adani Group (Gujarat), GMR Group (Uttar Pradesh) and JSW Group (Haryana).