Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 9 (ANI): Defending champions Bengal Warriors will battle Dabang Delhi KC on Thursday in Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
The 2019 finalists have endured contrasting fortunes in the ongoing tournament. Bengal dwell at the bottom of the points table while Delhi fight for the top position. The second match of the night will feature two of the in-form teams in the tournament - Patna Pirates and Puneri Paltan.
The Pirates are on top of the points table and will be looking to anchor their position while Pune are in a race to make it to the Top 6. The team from Maharashtra had a slow start to the season but have improved massively in the second half.
Delhi will be looking at the match against Bengal as an opportunity to exact revenge for the 2019 finals. A win for Delhi could spell the end of the Warriors' title defence. But Delhi haven't been in great form recently with Naveen Kumar still finding his best form after a lengthy injury layoff. The team has consistently been in the top 3 positions of the league however thanks to their 7-match unbeaten start to the season.
Delhi's key player will once again be Naveen Kumar. Bengal's defence has looked error-prone throughout the season and will offer the star raider plenty of raiders to fetch points. Delhi should however use him wisely and not be overly reliant. In Naveen's absence, they saw the likes of Vijay and Neeraj Narwal find their identity on the mat.
Delhi will understand the need for a collective performance in the remaining matches to ensure they go one better and clinch the Season 8 title. Bengal have struggled to match their expected standards and it is perhaps time for coach BC Ramesh to try some fresh players. Manoj Gowda and Rohit have impressed in the recent outings.
Raider Akash Pikalmunde and defender Sachin Vittala also might be in the reckoning as the likes of Mohammaed Nabibakhsh and Abozar Mighani continue to struggle.
Patna Pirates might be on top of the points table but don't expect Puneri Paltan's youngsters to show them any respect. Coach Anup Kumar's young Paltan squad are in a purple patch with raiders Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat keeping the likes of 'showman' Rahul Chaudhari on the bench.
Pune's strength has been the confidence of their young players and they will be eyeing a statement victory against three-time champions Patna Pirates.
The Pirates are an incredible unit with a strong attacking unit and a lethal defence. Guman Singh's emergence as a top raider has given coach Ram Mehar Singh more options in attack. All-rounder Monu also had a good outing against U Mumba, which might give Patna an opportunity to start with just 2 raiders.
The likes of Mohammadreza Shadloui and Sajin C have been consistent in defence and they will certainly be motivated for the battle against Pune's highly-rated raiders. (ANI)