As the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi league rolls on, Haryana Steelers will start their campaign by taking on Puneri Paltan at the Gachibowli Stadium of Hyderabad on Monday, July 22. The Steelers endured a hard time last year when they finished six. Paltan, on the other hand could only be nominally better with a fourth position.
However, this time, the Pune-based side is reinforced thanks to the arrival of Manjeet, a young and efficient raider who racked up 87 points for Patna Pirates in the 2018 season. He may prove to be the right partner for Paltan's Nitin Tomar who has been a consistent performer in the league over the years. It will be this attacking duo which the Steelers' defence will have to guard against.
But Steelers have a few weapons in their own arsenal when it comes to raiding. The duo of Prashanth Kumar Rai and Vikash Kandola was instrumental in getting the Haryana team into the playoffs of the 2017 season, the team's maiden season in PKL. Rai went away from the team last year to UP Yoddhas but is now back in the side. Kandola was the eighth most successful raider in 2018 but couldn't reach the 200-point mark. Breaching it could be his goal this season.
These two prolific raiders will have to take on the Puneri defence lead by Surjeet Singh. But apart from him, the defence may be a weak spot for the Paltan.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Rakesh Kumar, coach of Steelers, sounded optimistic. "Our players are very excited for this season and they are working hard as well as they know that the league is starting now and we have to play well and make our team champions. So our players are quite excited."
Kumar, two-time World Cup-winner with the Indian team, also refused to regard either team as favourites going into the match. "All players are good in Puneri Paltan. They have experienced and young players. They have Nitin Tomar and Surjeet Singh in their defense. But, we have good players in our team and we don't think anyone is stronger or weaker than us."
Schedule, TV listings and live streaming
The live coverage of the match begins at 8:35 PM IST on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports First along with other vernacular sports channels of the network. For those who have HD TV available, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 2 HD and Star Sports 1 Hindi HD will also be beaming the matches live. If you happen to be online, then Hotstar will be providing the live stream in multiple languages and resolutions.