Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 20 (ANI): Puneri Paltan will lock horns with UP Yoddha on Monday in the first Eliminator match of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8. Pune clinched the sixth position on the table with a last-day victory against Playoff rivals Jaipur Pink Panthers and will be looking to carry that momentum into the Eliminator phase.
UP Yoddha won't be easy pushovers having registered a third-place with a nearly-flawless end to the league stages. Pardeep Narwal and Surender Gill have led the Yoddha attack efficiently and they will be keen on clinching a win that will set up a semi-final date with league-toppers Patna Pirates.
The second Eliminator match of the night will feature Gujarat Giants and Bengaluru Bulls - teams who finished 4th and 5th in the league respectively. The Giants have the momentum in their favour with their defence finding form in the most crucial stage of the tournament but will face an inspired Bengaluru buoyed by the performance of their star raider Pawan Sehrawat.
Bengaluru Bulls started the season in red-hot form but suffered a poor run in the second half. In Gujarat, they face a team that had the exact opposite path to the playoffs. They had a slow start but won 7 out of their last 11 matches to make it to the eliminators. Gujarat's good run was powered by their experienced defence.
The likes of Girish Ernak, Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar have impressed in the recent matches and will be looking to once again marshal the defence. The Giants rely on their defensive stability - if they don't leak points, they usually win. Coach Manpreet Singh will know that the key to Gujarat's success will be stopping 'High-Flyer' Pawan Sehrawat. The Bulls have a tendency to be over-reliant on their captain for the raid points and often struggle when he is not on the mat.
Luckily for the Bulls, their secondary raider Bharat has looked excellent in the second half of the season. His emergence as a brilliant all-rounder will also allow coach Randhir Singh to switch tactics easily - from playing the third raider Chandran Ranjit to defensive stability with all-rounder G.B. More. Rakesh S was brilliant in Gujarat's win against U Mumba, and they will once again be hoping he can provide the magic in the attack.
The teams had a 1-1 head-to-head in the league stages with the Bulls winning the first. Bengaluru's defence will need to be mistake-free to allow their raiders to do the work at the other end. The winner will play Dabang Delhi K.C. in the semi-finals. (ANI)