Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 23 (ANI): Table-toppers Patna Pirates will square off against a resurgent UP Yoddha on Wednesday for a place in the final of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
While three-time champions Patna Pirates, a well-balanced outfit, have dominated the league stages, they now face stiff opposition in U.P Yoddha, who have had the comeback of star raider Pardeep Narwal strike form in just the nick of time.
"Pardeep is an outstanding raider, but midway there was some injury concerns and his speed also decreased. Now, he has come back to form which also gives the defence confidence that in case they miss out on 1-2 points, Pardeep is there to deliver and back the team," said UP Yoddha captain Nitesh Kumar.
"We have shown complete confidence in Pardeep, and he has delivered when it matters the most and has won matches for them. We are happy with Pardeep's performance. Even when the others didn't believe in him, we believed in Pardeep and we're sure that he will turn around the fate of the team," he added.
Going into the match against Patna Pirates will amount to a little pressure, but UP Yoddha coach Jasveer Singh is quite confident of his team.
"Our journey did not begin that well since our combination was not proper, but after that, we made a comeback, and the combination also was good. The result of that Is now we are in the semi-final. There will always be a little pressure when you play in a semi-final or final of such a big league," said Kumar.
"So, this little pressure should be there to bring out good performances. But there is no added pressure as such since we have played two matches against Patna Pirates before. Our team, both with offence and defence, is looking good. We have plans for every team, but we will try and execute the best strategy against them," he added.
One of UP Yoddha's challenges will be Iranian Mohammadreza Shadloui, who has been the pick of the defenders this season with 81 tackle points.
"Mohammadreza is the best defender now but it's the whole team that will be challenging, both in offence and defence. Patna Pirates is a well-balanced team, so it's important that we not only pay attention to Mohammadreza but also on the whole team as well," coach Jasveer Singh said.
"He has been one of the best defenders of the league. He is an aggressive player and has got a good ankle hold and dive. We will look to avoid that and look to target areas where he makes mistakes and capitalise on them. We will try and make him commit those errors," U.P Yoddha captain Nitesh Kumar concluded. (ANI)