The seventh season of Pro Kabaddi League enters its last stage with the two eliminators taking place on October 14. In the first eliminator, defending champions Bengaluru Bulls face UP Yoddha while the second pits U Mumba against Haryana Steelers.
Last year's champions, the Bulls, had a tough time this season and were just able to reach the play-off stage by occupying the lowest position among qualifiers – sixth. What's more, they have lost to UP Yodha in both their matches against them this season, the last defeat coming just three days ago.
Yoddha, on the other hand, have won five of their last six matches in the league stage. But in this do-or-die contest, previous records won't matter. The biggest threat for the UP side would be star raider of Bengaluru Pawan Sehrawat. Rather than crumbling under the pressure of expectations, the 'hi-flier' has soared in 2019 with many great performances, including some in very tense situations.
Unfortunately, the other star raider of the team, captain Rohit Kumar, hasn't come to the party yet. His lack of form has been somewhat compensated for by the good work of Sumit Singh. The latter, obviously, gets few opportunities but has made use of them.
Against the troika of Sehrawat, Kumar and Singh, would be the formidable defence pair of Sumit and Nitesh Kumar. The former is the third most successful defender this season in terms of tackle points and is closely trailed by Kumar. The contest between Pawan and these two men in their respective corners would be brilliant to watch.
The attack for Yoddhas would be led by Shrikant Jadhav who has been in reasonably good form. His support comes from Rishank Devadiga and Surender Gill. The lanky Gill is the back-up raider and has come good when opportunities have been given to him. Devadiga provides the experience in the side.
Interestingly, the leader of Bulls' defence is not the corner defender but the man who stands at left cover, Mahender Singh. The corners are manned by Amit Sheoran and Saurabh Nandal, a combination with more than 100 points this year.
On current form, one expects the Yoddhas to have an edge. But on the day, a great performance from Pawan could change the equation.
U Mumba are led by the experienced Fazel Atrachali who has kept the team in good stead with his solid defending and careful handling of the unit. His efforts have been greatly supported by Abhishek Singh, the raider who rose to the occasion and performed brilliantly for his side in many matches.
Apart from these two star players, the Mumbai-based team also has couple of other capable raiders in Arjun Deshwal and Athul MS as well as Sandeep Narwal and Surinder Singh as defenders.
Haryana will rely on their talismanic raider Vikash Kandola who is getting close to the 200-point mark this season. He has great support from Prashanth Kumar Rai who is also close to completing 100 points. The four defenders for Haryana would be Sunil, Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Ravi Kumar and Vikas Kale.
The leadership of Fazel, which has been very successful, will be up against some high-quality players. With exciting raiders and defenders in each team, a thrilling contest ensues.
The first eliminator begins at 7:30 PM IST while the second one is scheduled to get underway at 8:30 PM IST.
Where to watch
Live telecast of the matches would be available on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports First, Star Sports 1 Hindi, the HD versions of these channels as well as the Star Sports channels in vernacular languages. Online streaming is available on Hotstar.