Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], January 30 (ANI): Haryana Steelers will lock horns with Gujarat Giants on Monday in Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
The Steelers have been a consistent team, especially when their much-famed defence shines, and will fancy their chances against an out-of-form Gujarat Giants side. Coach Manpreet Singh's Gujarat were completely outclassed in their previous encounter and will need to find fresh inspiration to save their season from spiralling downwards.
The game will be followed by the Metropolitan Derby between Dabang Delhi KC and U Mumba. Both teams go into the match after morale-boosting victories and will know the importance of a win in their road to a playoff spot. The Haryana-Gujarat match is slated to commence the much-anticipated Rivalry Week of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
Haryana Steelers have assembled one of the best squads in Season 8. Their cover defenders Jaideep and Mohit have arguably been the best combination in the entire league. But Haryana have often failed to stamp their authority and seal victories.
They have lost valuable points from winning positions which might have its effect at the end of the season. However, with three wins and a tie in their last four matches, Haryana go into the match against Gujarat Giants as the favourites.
Gujarat endured a difficult night against Delhi in their previous outing with both their raiders and defenders failing to clinch the points. They sit 11th on the points table and are desperately short of confidence.
Coach Manpreet Singh has tried multiple raiding combinations but barring Rakesh's occasional brilliance there has been nothing noteworthy. Pardeep Kumar scored 7 points against Delhi which should earn him another starting role.
Haryana will be buoyed by the emergence of Rohit Gulia and Vinay as backup raiders. They have supported captain Vikash Kandola with their speed and agility.
The trio will pose a great threat to Gujarat's stuttering defence. Giants' experienced defence, including the cover combination of Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar, has often struggled against pacy raiders which should give Haryana coach Rakesh Kumar the confidence to unleash an attacking strategy.
The form is definitely on Haryana's side but Gujarat's desperation for a win could bring out the best from their seasoned stars.
Naveen Kumar is expected to make a return to the mat for Delhi after a lengthy layoff due to a knee injury. But coach Krishan Kumar Hooda will know there is no need to rush his star raider's comeback especially with his defence showing their true best against Gujarat in their last outing.
Krishan and Manjeet Chhillar secured High 5s in a dominant performance while Vijay continued to dazzle in the attack. In Naveen's absence, Delhi have finally developed a Plan B which will be very important for them to stay on course for another final appearance.
The face-off between India's two biggest cities will most likely see an aggressive defence. Fazel Atrachali and Rahul Sethpal were excellent for Mumbai against Bengaluru Bulls and will definitely fancy their chances against Delhi.
Their pacy raiders Abhishek Singh and Ajith Kumar will also need to be on top of their game. Jeeva Kumar and Manjeet Chhillar aren't the fastest covers in PKL which should give the raiders plenty of chances for hand or toe touches.
Abhishek should try to push Joginder Narwal to the left corner and entice the error-prone Jeeva Kumar to make a charge for him. Mumbai will know the importance of a victory in their bid for a playoff berth which should result in a high-voltage encounter. (ANI)