UP Yoddha begin their Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 campaign against defending champions Bengal Warriors on Wednesday.
This is the first time the teams will be facing each other since the PKL auction, where both teams restructured their squads ahead of the new season.
UP Yoddha brought in PKL’s best raider, Pardeep Narwal, who has a record-setting 1,169 points in the league. Bengal Warriors have kept their winning core intact, with captain Maninder Singh and Mohammed Esmaeil Nabibakhsh retained.
This is also the first season since UP Yoddha’s inception that Rishank Devadiga will not be a part of the group. He may represent Bengal Warriors in the very first league match against his former team.
Players to watch out for - UP Yoddha
Pardeep Narwal is PKL’s top raider and will be playing for UP Yoddha for the first time. Shrikant Jadhav, UP Yoddha’s best raider from Season 7, is expected to play second fiddle.
Captain Nitesh Kumar, the only defender to score 100 tackle points in a season, is always a threat at the right corner. Sumit, Season 7’s Best New Young Player with 80 points, will be at the left corner.
Players to watch out for - Bengal Warriors
Captain Maninder Singh is the team’s top raider since Season 5, accumulating 603 points in the last three seasons. Rishank Devadiga has 351 points in the last three seasons and is expected to be good support for the captain.
Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmail Nabibakhsh scored 122 points in PKL 7. He scored the most points in PKL 7 final to earn Bengal Warriors their title. Corner Rinku Narwal, with 64 points from Season 7, is also a player to watch out for.
Bengal Warriors vs UP Yoddha | Head-to-Head
Bengal Warriors and UP Yoddha have faced each other eight times, with Bengal Warriors winning two UP Yoddha claiming two wins. The other three matches ended in a draw.
In PKL 7, the two teams met twice, with Bengal Warriors winning 48-17 the first time and UP Yoddha winning 32-29 in the second and most recent encounter.
UP Yoddha Squad
Nitesh Kumar, Pardeep Narwal, Shrikant Jadhav, Aman Hooda, Ankit, Gulveer Singh, James Kamweti, Mohammad Taghi, Rohit Tomar, Sahil, Surender Gill, Ashu Singh, Aashish Nagar, Bintu Narwal, Shubham Kumar, Gaurav Kumar, Sumit, Gurdeep, Nitin Panwar
Bengal Warriors squad
Rishank Devadiga, Akash Pikalmunde, Sumit Singh, Sukesh Hegde, Maninder Singh, Ravindra Kumawat, Rohit, Manoj Gowda K, Mohammed Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, Sachin Vittala, Darshan J, Rohit Banne, Parveen, Vijin Thangadurai, Abozar Mohajer Mighani, Rinku Narwal