PKL semifinals: Patna to take on Pune, Jaipur to battle Titans

Titans, which struggled in the early phase of this season but manage bounce back later on, thanks to the efficacy of its captain and star raider Rahul Chowdhari, is hoping to cash in on the support of the expected noisy home crowd.

Season one winner Jaipur Pink Panthers will be taking on home favourite Telugu Titans in one of the semifinal.   -  ROHIT JAIN PARAS

The Pro Kabaddi League season four has entered the decisive phase with the men’s semifinals lined up at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Friday.

Defending champion Patna Pirates meets Puneri Paltan in the first semifinal, while local favourite Telugu Titans takes on the first edition winner Jaipur Pink Panthers in the second.

Titans, which struggled in the early phase of this season but manage bounce back later on, thanks to the efficacy of its captain and star raider Rahul Chowdhari, is hoping to cash in on the support of the expected noisy home crowd.

“We hope they will cheer us and that should be a huge bonus. We are not feeling any kind of pressure,” insisted Rahul, while asserting that his team needed to shore up its defence.

“We are going to target the Panthers’ key player Ajay Kumar and we are also aware of their very strong defence line-up. The first five minutes of the contest could well set the tempo for the rest of the match,” said Rahul.

Rahul pointed out that Titans had a similar record in the first edition when they drew one and lost five straight games before winning seven in a row to make it to the knock-out. “The expectations are naturally high but more importantly, the team is playing to its full potential now after a sluggish start,” he added.

“We have to support our raiders who have been doing a great job right through,” said star defender Sandeep Narwal.

The Panthers captain Jasvir Singh believes his team’s defence will be the key to success. “But, it should be remembered we are here because of our all-round superiority and are optimistic of continuing our good showing. We have big-match players who can rise to the occasion,” said Jasvir.

Dharmaraj Cheralathan, the captain of the defending champion Patna Pirates, said he was aware of the expectations. “It all boils down to how well you play on the day. It should be a tough match but we are confident of pulling it off.”

Semifinal line-up:

Patna Pirates vs Puneri Paltan (8 p.m.), Telugu Titans vs Jaipur Pink Panthers (9 p.m.).