UP Yoddha have to credit themselves for reaching the play-offs of the Pro Kabaddi League seasons five and six. In their debut season of PKL in the fifth edition, UP reached Eliminator 1 before losing. In season six, UP reached Qualifier 2 but fell one win short of entering the final.
For a team that is just two seasons old, reaching the play-offs both times is a remarkable achievement. They once again gear up for another season of PKL and this time they hope to break the barrier and reach the final.
A strong team in raiding, UP Yoddha have impressed everyone in the last two seasons. They made a late rush last season to reach the play-offs before they upset U Mumba in the knockout stages.
A similar performance will be expected from them as they will be led by star raider Monu Goyat. The costliest player in the history of PKL (bought by Haryana Steelers for Rs 1.51 crore last year), Goyat will lead the raiding unit which compromises of Rishank Devadiga and Shrikant Jadhav. They have Nitesh Kumar in the defence.
Past record of the UP Yoddha
|Season 5||Reached Eliminator 1, lost to Puneri Paltan|
|Season 6||Reached Qualifier 2, lost to Gujarat Fortunegiants|
UP were very economical in the auctions. They bought Goyat for Rs 93 lakh to make the forward line formidable. But for Goyat they had to transfer Prashanth Kumar Rai. Their raiding capacity does not come down but the loss of Jeeva Kumar would hurt them. The cover defender was one of the major players last season.
The team won’t be entirely unhappy with their picks in the auctions as they managed to get a balanced team with some exciting young talents.
Undoubtedly, UP Yoddha will be banking on their raiders to carry them all the way to the finals. Goyat, Devadiga and Jadhav form one of the most lethal attacks in the league. The three combine for 1200 raid points in the league. They will be backed up by Nitesh in the defence and he can single-handedly win matches for his team.
Nitesh’s cover on the right the corner will test the best in the business. If everything clicks for UP, it won’t be a surprise if the team makes it to their third straight play-offs.
With Nitesh and Sachin in the corners, the covers are left open for UP. Jasveer will have to look for players to fill these positions. Narender was one of the covers last season but he had the worst numbers for missed tackles. Opponents will be aware of such an opening in UP’s defence.
One of the most fancied players in Indian kabaddi, Jasveer will be coaching a PKL franchise for the second time. For the second straight year he will look to take UP Yoddha to the play-offs. Last year, the team had a stunning winning streak of five matches at the business end of the tournament. The streak was extended to eight when they won in the play-offs.
His changes in the defence were also lauded when Sachin Kumar played left cover for the team. The match and tactical awareness of Jasveer can once again prove to be the difference.
Player to watch out for: Monu Goyat
The costliest player in PKL history had an underwhelming season last time around after suffering an injury. He had only 160 raid points last season and he will be looking to improve this year. In PKL 5, he had 191 raid points. The experience of leading Patna Pirates to the final will also be very useful to his team this season.