Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 4 (ANI): U Mumba will lock horns with Tamil Thalaivas in the first match on Saturday's Rivalry Week in Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
Tamil Thalaivas' defence has been rock solid in their last two victories. They will now be eyeing to consolidate their position in the top 6 by beating Season 1 champions Mumbai.
The second match of the triple-header night will see UP Yoddha battle Telugu Titans. Yoddha have struggled in their recent outings despite heroics from raider Surender Gill, but in Titans, they face an opponent horribly out of form. The Telugu team have just one win in an injury-marred season.
The final match of the night will feature Puneri Paltan and Jaipur Pink Panthers. Both teams are going through purple patches with Pune winning four of their last 4 matches.
Tamil Thalaivas' big wins in the Southern Derbies have allowed them to climb to the top 6 of the points table. Their defence, particularly Sagar in the right corner, terrorised the opposition raiders in these victories. They will go into the match against Mumbai as the more confident side. U Mumba lost their last two outings and has been affected by all-rounder Rahul Sethpal's absence in the cover position.
Raiders Ajith Kumar and Abhishek Singh have the potential to change the matches with their skills, but they will need to avoid the iron fists of Sagar to do so. Mumbai's chances will largely depend on their defence. Thalaivas' Manjeet and Ajinkya Pawar haven't necessarily been the most lethal raiding unit in Season 8. If captain Fazel Atrachali can convince his defenders to be on the front foot right from the first whistle, they might have a chance of disrupting the Thalaivas' game plan.
UP benched 'Record Breaker' Pardeep Narwal in their previous outing. Instead, they started with the raiding duo of Surender Gill and Shrikant Jadhav. It will be interesting to see if they opt for the same strategy against a struggling Titans side. Sandeep Kandola in the left corner has been the only reliable defender for the Telugu team in Season 8 - which means starting left raider Pardeep might actually be a good ploy.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Pardeep is best used as an impact player on the mat. Use him when there is an opportunity to attack and bench him when it is time to defend. UP captain Nitesh Kumar has been excellent in the right corner and will be eyeing a win to help his team in the race for a playoff spot.
Puneri Paltan have been the best team in the tournament in two weeks. With 4 wins in 4 matches, coach Anup Kumar's young side has defied odds and look like favourites to clinch a place in the playoffs. The team's strength has been their young athletes.
Raiders Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat have taken turns to attack the opposition with pace and strength. Cover defenders Abinesh Nadarajan and Sanket Sawant have also been excellent at charging down any attackers.
But in Jaipur, they will face a very difficult opponent. Experienced star Deepak Hooda and his raiding partner Arjun Deshwal are known to pick points from even the toughest defences. The Panthers' defence of Sahul Kumar, Vishal and Sandeep Dhull will also be keen on clinching a statement victory that can help Jaipur stay in the hunt for a top 6 finish. (ANI)