Who are the best Indian Centre-Backs in the Indian Super League?

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Indian Super League 2021-22 season is nearing its’s conclusion. This season has been by far the most exciting edition of the league to date. This season the league stage alone surpassed the entire past seasons in terms of the total goals scored. We witnessed some new young talents making their name this season due to the reduced number of foreign players which was introduced earlier this season. Most clubs opted to pair an Indian center-back along with an experienced International center-back, which wasn’t the case previously. Because of that new players have emerged this season in that position.

We analyzed the stats of all the players from this season’s league stage to find out the best Indian Center Backs in ISL 2021/22. We evaluated them on the basis of the 4 parameters mentioned below;

  1. Defensive Duels
  2. Positioning
  3. Aerial Duels
  4. Ball Progression and Passing Ability

Disclaimer: Players who have played more than 900 minutes in the league stage this season are only considered for this statistical analysis. We have selected only the best 4 players from each parameter for this statistical analysis. All data and stats are taken from Wyscout.

1) Criteria of Analysis – Defensive Duels

In this, we will see how players commit themselves to duels & actually are able to win it. So we have two data points in this i.e Defensive Duel/90 & Defensive Duel won%.

Who are the best Indian Centre-Backs in the Indian Super League?

Narender Gahlot (Jamshedpur FC) – The 20-year-old Jamshedpur CB has played relatively less but has performed whenever he is asked to. He recorded 5.26 duels/90 with an impressive success rate of 66.67%

Mehtab Singh (Mumbai City FC) – One of the few consistent players this season for Mumbai City, Mehtab recorded a phenomenal success rate of 72.23%, second-best in the league.

Hormipam Ruivah (Kerala Blasters FC) – One of the emerging players of the season, Hormipam Ruivah bought in much-needed stability needed for Kerala Blasters at the back while attempting a solid 5.61 duels/90 he also won 59.65% of them, which is close to league average

Anwar Ali (FC Goa) – Indian Football’s prodigal son returned to top-flight this season & straight away cemented his place in Goa’s lineup. Anwar Ali attempted just 4.07 duels/90 which is second-lowest in the league but he had the best success rate amongst all with a stunning 78.26%

2) Criteria of Analysis – Positioning

It is important for a defender to be in the right place at right time to stop opposition threats. PAdj (Possession-adjusted) is a method to calculate defensive statistics to take possession values into account.

Who are the best Indian Centre-Backs in the Indian Super League?

Hormipam Ruivah (Kerala Blasters FC) He just dominates this parameter with an impressive 10.83 successful defensive actions per game & a massive 7.56 Possession-adjusted Interceptions.

Adil Khan (SC East Bengal) – The 33-year-old had the most successful defensive actions with 11.02/game along with a league-average PAdj of 7.56.

Gaurav Bora (Odisha FC) – The 26-year old CB from Assam. He recorded 7.98 possession-adjusted Interceptions per game. He also recorded 9.48 successful defensive actions per game in the league last season.

Pritam Kotal (ATK Mohun Bagan) – The 28-year old recorded 8.23 possession adjusted ones per game. He ranks fourth-most for successful defensive actions per game with a value of 8.88 per game.

3) Criteria of Analysis – Aerial Duels

Being dominant in the air is another key aspect for any center-back. It also gives us an idea about the player during attacking or defensive set-pieces.

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Aiban Dohling (FC Goa) – The 25-year old recorded 4.69 aerial duels per game in the league last season and won 61.04% of them, most amongst all players.

Narayan Das (Chennaiyin FC) – Chennaiyin’s Narayan Das is one of the impressive players in this category. The 28-year old recorded 4.99 aerial duels/game and won 55.34% of them.

Anwar Ali (FC Goa) – He recorded 4.34 Aerial duels/game which is close to the league average and he wins 57.14% of them.

Pratik Chaudhari (Bengaluru FC) – One of the oldest in the list, 32-year old Pratik contested 4.42 aerial duels and won 49.18% of them.

4) Criteria of Analysis – Ball Progression & Passing Ability

Progressing the ball forward is one of the key aspects of modern-day football. In this section, we will have the best ball-playing Centre-backs in the league.

The statistical graph below shows the ball progression ability among the players this season.

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The statistical graph below shows the passing accuracy among the players this season.

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Sana Singh (Hyderabad FC) – The 26-year old CB from Manipur has the second most progressive runs in this list with 0.65 Progressive runs per 90 and with a league average of 7.38 Progressive passes/90. He attempts 33.99 passes/90 in which 5.38 passes are directed towards the final third.

Rahul Bheke (Mumbai City FC) – With Mumbai City playing a possession-based style it’s not surprising to see Rahul Bheke emerge as one of the top players on this list. He recorded 0.51 Progressive runs/90 and also has 7.33 Progressive passes/90.

Anwar Ali (FC Goa)- Statistically he is the best ball-playing Indian Centre back in the league. He leads in 3 of the 4 aspects in this section. With 43.85 passes/90 in which 5.85 are attempted towards the final third.

Hormipam Ruivah (Kerala Blasters FC) – Deserves a mention as Kerala Blasters are not amongst the teams which had a lot of Possession this season and despite that Hormipam exceeds the league average in 3 of the 4 aspects in this section. He recorded 7.78 progressive passes per 90 and also had 4.29 passes into the final third per 90.

Conclusion – Here are the best Indian center-backs from this season.

The best Indian center-backs in the Indian Super League are determined on the basis of the average rating of the players from all the above parameters.


Who are the best Indian Centre-Backs in the Indian Super League? i

Anwar comes out as one of the best in the league excelling in almost all parameters barring one which is attempted defensive duels per 90. His ball-playing ability is second to none and he is a massive asset to India and FC Goa in the future.

HORMIPAM RUIVAH (Kerala Blasters FC)

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Hormipam is the best Indian stopper in the league and this is just his debut ISL season. His weakness is aerial duels, which is mainly due to the fact that he plays alongside Leskovic who deals with most of the aerial challenges that Kerala Blaster faces.


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We are not exaggerating it but Aiban Dohling is definitely the Virgil Van Dijk of the league when it comes to Aerial Ability. Although he wins most of his aerial duels, winning the defensive ground duels is still a challenge for Aiban.


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Mehtab is the Jack of all trades! Underrated Centre Back who brought stability to Mumbai in the second half of the season. His weakness can be against pacey forwards but his high defensive ability can cover that up.

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