Like in its debut season, UP Yoddha finished third in Zone B of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) last year and progressed to the eliminators. The side, led by Rishank Devadiga, went on a rampage and soared into the qualifiers, but lost to eventual runner-up Gujarat FortuneGiants.
Aiming to maintain continuity, the team has held on to its core squad during the auctions. An already impressive raiding unit has been further strengthened with the arrival of Monu Goyat, while its impressive young defence – which was key in its march to the qualifier – will prove to be fundamental once again should it repeat, or better, its performances in season seven.
While UP Yoddha has a strong starting line-up, there’s little depth on the bench. With its stars expected to play majority of the games, lack of form or an injury could severely dent its title hopes.
RAIDERS: Monu Goyat, Rishank Devadiga, Shrikant Jadhav, Md. Masud Karim, Gulveer Singh, Surender Singh, Ankush and Nitesh Kumar
The raiding trio of Monu, Rishank and Shrikant will be the team’s biggest strength. Having used its two Final Bid Matches to keep hold of Rishank and Shrikant, UP Yoddha roped in Monu to compliment the duo.
While Rishank finished with 104 points last season, which accounted for 85.75 percent of UP Yoddha's team's total raid points, Monu picked up 160 points (with Haryana Steelers) – including 10 Super 10s. While the trio does not feature in the top ten raiders (by points collected) last season, the experience and presence of specialist raiders on either side (Rishank and Monu on the right, Shrikanth on the left) will make it one of the league's most potent attacks.
Rishank and Monu will also be out to prove a point after both the players saw their values drop from season 6. Rishank, who went for ₹111 lakh in 2018, was retained for ₹61 lakh while Monu, who went for ₹151 lakh in 2018 to become the highest paid player in PKL history, saw his price fall to ₹93 lakh this year.
DEFENDERS: Nitesh Kumar, Sachin Kumar, Aashish Nagar, Amit
Nitesh Kumar was the undoubtedly standout player for UP Yoddha last season. His understanding with his opposite corner Sachin Kumar was the foundation on which the team’s charge was built on and it will hope to bank on that this season too. Right corner Nitesh created history by becoming the first player to score 100 tackle points in a single season last time around.
With youngsters Aashish and Amit the only back-ups, UP Yoddha will be hoping for the star duo to consistently perform while steering clear of injuries.
ALL-ROUNDERS: Narender, Gurdeep, Mohsen Maghsoudloujafari, Arkam Shaikh
Mohsen Maghsodlujafari's signing is of prime importance to the side. His ability to perform as a do-or-die raider and also as a defender will prove to be priceless. Narender, a match-winner on his day, will be hoping for a more consistent season this time, while the fresh faces in Arkam and Gurdeep will be hoping to get a shot or two.
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