League-toppers Patna Pirates will lock horns with UP Yoddha on Wednesday for a place in the final of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8. Patna dominated the league stages through collective, team performances led by their insatiable defence. But they will be facing a familiar foe in the Yoddha’s Pardeep Narwal. The ‘record breaker’ won three titles with the Pirates but will turn arch-nemesis for the first semi-final of the night.
The second semi-final will be Dabang Delhi’s showdown against Bengaluru Bulls. The Season 7 runners-up will be hoping to make it two finals in a row but a tough challenge awaits them. Bengaluru have shown that they are way more than Pawan Sehrawat in the recent outings with the support raiders Bharat and Chandran Ranjit finding form.
Semi-final 1: Patna Pirates vs UP Yoddha
All eyes will be on Narwal when he faces his old team Patna Pirates in the first semi-final. The star raider has looked in good shape in the recent matches, turning cagey battles into one-sided affairs with multi-point raids. He will no doubt be Yoddha’s major trump card against Patna.
The Pirates got a direct slot in the semi-finals after topping the league stage. They are a team in-form and have a dangerous defence led by Iranian left corner Mohammadreza Shadloui Chiyaneh.
The match could most likely be decided by how well Patna handle Narwal’s raids.
Surender Gill has been a great deputy in attack for Yoddha while their famous corner combination of Sumit and Nitesh Kumar is also looking lethal.
For Patna, Sachin Tanwar should be a favourite considering his rich form. But coach Ram Mehar Singh might opt for the experienced Monu Goyat instead of the impressive Guman Singh to be the second option in attack. Both teams won a match each when they met each other in the group stage.
Semi-final 2: Dabang Delhi vs Bengaluru Bulls
Interestingly, the match between Delhi and Bengaluru will not only be about two of the best raiders in the country – Naveen Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat. In Naveen’s absence due to injury earlier in the season, Delhi’s veteran stars realised their full potential with the likes of Manjeet Chhillar and Sandeep Narwal showing their mettle. Similarly, Bengaluru’s defence and secondary raiders have risen to the challenge in their recent outings easing the pressure off Pawan’s shoulders.
The outstanding raiders will again be required to inflict maximum damage on the opponents. Naveen’s fitness will be a key concern but Delhi earned extra rest days by securing a direct spot in the semis by finishing second in the league stage. Both Naveen and Pawan are known for their outstanding performances in pressure situations. But their time away from the mat will be limited with others helping them.
In Chandran Ranjit and Bharat, the Bulls have a potent raiding unit to support their skipper. Their corner duo of Sourabh Nandal and Aman has also been in good form which has allowed cover defender Mahender to be more expressive.
Dabang’s biggest strength is their experience. Manjeet Chhillar, Joginder Narwal, Sandeep Narwal are all seasoned stars who have been through multiple finals in their career. They will know how to perfectly navigate the challenge. In Vijay, they also have a stellar all-rounder to give Naveen the backup he wants.