On Monday, UP Yoddha will go against Anup Kumar-coached Puneri Paltan at the Sheraton Grand, Whitefield in Bengaluru in Eliminator 1 for a place in the Pro Kabaddi Season 8 semi-final.
A few mixed results early on, a string of losses in the middle and finding form when it mattered the most - UP Yoddha have had quite a ride to book a PKL 8 playoff berth.
“This win was very important,” raider Shrikant Jadhav said after the final league-stage match against U Mumba. “Our coaches have played an important role in keeping us going.”
UP Yoddha finished in the third spot in the PKL standings with 68 points in the group stage, and Puneri Paltan finished sixth with 66 points.
Table-toppers Patna Pirates are awaiting the winners of Eliminator 1 on Wednesday for Pro Kabaddi Season 8’s first semi-final. The final is scheduled for Friday.
“Our next match will be good,” Shrikant expressed. “We have a three-day break in between to prepare for it.”
Players to watch out for - UP Yoddha
Surender Gill has topped the leaderboards this season throughout, amassing 183 raid points in 21 matches. He has eight super 10s and seven super raids in Pro Kabaddi Season 8’s group stages.
Pardeep Narwal has roared back to form when it mattered the most, bagging 58 raid points in the last five matches. He also has eight super 10s among his 166 raid point collection and has nine super raids to his name.
Both corner defenders Sumit and Nitesh Kumar have put up impressive performances with 56 and 52 points, respectively. Sumit has three high 5s while Nitesh has two.
Players to watch out for - Puneri Paltan
Mohit Goyat has been Puneri Paltan’s lead raider with 134 raid points in 20 matches. Young Aslam Inamdar has been an excellent second fiddle with 128 raid points from 22 games.
Among Puneri Paltan’s defenders, Sombir has stood out with 57 tackle points in 18 matches at an average of 3.17 per match. He also has five high 5s to his name this season.
Vishal Bhardwaj and Abinesh Nadarajan have 44 and 43 tackle points, respectively, giving Sombir ample support to strengthen Puneri Paltan’s defence.
UP Yoddha vs Puneri Paltan head-to-head
UP Yoddha hold a slight edge over Puneri Paltan in their seven-match head-to-head record. UP Yoddha have won four games while Puneri Paltan have won three.
In the PKL 8 group stage encounters, the teams pocketed one game apiece. While UP Yoddha was the victorious team with a scoreline of 50-40 in the first game, Puneri Paltan turned things around with a 28-24 win just 10 days later.
Across the two matches, Surender Gill picked 37 raid points, with 21 tackle points coming in the winning cause. The Paltan will be wary of Super Gill in the big encounter coming up.
Aslam Inamdar has 28 raid points across the two matches (12 and 16), and Mohit Goyat has 27 (13 and 14).
UP Yoddha - W, W, L, W, W
Puneri Paltan - W, L, W, T, W