Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Final: Three-time champion Patna Pirates braces for Dabang Delhi challenge

Patna Pirates is gunning for a record-extending fourth Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) title, while Dabang Delhi is into its second straight final and in the hunt for a maiden trophy. Who will emerge the victor?

Patna Pirates vs Dabang Delhi

While Dabang Delhi goes into the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) final as the underdog, it will take heart from the fact that it beat Patna Pirates twice in the League this season.   -  Special Arrangement

Patna Pirates will look for a record-extending fourth Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) crown when it locks horns with last season's runner-up Dabang Delhi in Friday's summit clash at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield. 

The three-time champion, which topped the table at the end of the league stage and directly qualified for the last-four stage, outclassed Pardeep Narwal's UP Yoddha in their semifinal clash on Wednesday. UP Yoddha was of little to no match as Patna Pirates' three-pronged raiding team of Sachin Tanwar, Guman Singh and Prashant Kumar Rai ran riot, while Mohammadreza Shadloui Chiyaneh bagged his 10th High-5 to become PKL 8's most successful defender.

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Elsewhere, Dabang Delhi produced a superb all-around display to defeat Bengaluru Bulls and cruise into the final. The side banked on Naveen Kumar's brilliant Super 10 (14 points), while Vijay and Neeraj Narwal also chipped in with crucial points. The defence, featuring veterans such as Joginder Narwal, Manjeet Chhillar and Sandeep Narwal, had a decent outing and held on to seal the game despite Pawan Sehrawat scoring a whopping 18 points.

Patna Pirates' incredible squad depth is its x-factor

The one aspect that has particularly worked for Patna Pirates this season has been the side's squad depth. The team chose to let go of Pardeep and brought in youngsters such as Guman and Sachin, who have excelled. So much so that Monu Goyat, at one point the League's most expensive player, has remained on the bench over the last few games and did not even play a minute in the semifinal. Where Sachin and Guman have shouldered the raiding responsibilities, Shadloui has anchored the defence. 

The Iranian left corner, who was the most expensive foreign player at last year's player auctions, has dominated the left side of the mat. Known for his iron-clad ankle holds, he possesses great power and speed and is more often than not involved in every tackle. The youngster has 10 High-5's in PKL 8 - the most by any player in PKL history - and is also the leading defender. Sunil, Neeraj Kumar and Sajin Chandrashekar have played crucial roles in the defence and will look to clamp down Dabang Delhi's raiders.

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Speaking ahead of the final, coach Ram Mehar Singh, the most successful coach in PKL history with three titles, said: "I am very proud of my team and their achievements this season. All of them have played their role to perfection which has resulted in us qualifying for the final of PKL Season 8. We are excited to be playing Dabang Delhi, who are a good team with a balance of both, young and experienced players." 

The coach added that they would devise specific plans to deal with Dabang Delhi's ace raider Naveen. "We will have certain plans to tackle Naveen Kumar and their powerful raiders, but we will also have our strategies for the entire team as well. I am confident with my team, and I know that they will give more than 100 per cent to ensure we win the title for the fourth time. This is going to be a thrilling final and we can’t wait for it.”

Dabang Delhi's grit and Naveen could take it past the Pirates

Dabang Delhi got off to a rollicking start but Naveen's injury saw the side slip to a string of poor results. The defence, starring Jeeva Kumar, Manjeet, Joginder and Sandeep began to leak points and the side's play-off hopes appeared slim. But the young turks in Vijay, Ashu Malik and Neeraj came to the fore while the defence slowly eased into the season. And then came Naveen, back from the injury and raring to go.

The mercurial raider is yet to attain full fitness but has been motoring on with aplomb. He was instrumental in Dabang Delhi's win over the Bulls in the semis as he picked up points when it mattered the most and ensured he kept the scoreboard ticking. Patna Pirates has looked weak in Super Tackle situations, when the team is down to three men, and that is precisely a situation in which Naveen thrives.

Meanwhile, you can also check out our Kings of Kabaddi series from PKL 7  - a happier time pre-COVID when we got to physically sit down with some of the biggest names in the league and hear their stories. You can check out all episodes here:

 

Playing in his second successive final, he's eager to take home the title this time around. "We are hungry for the title and are confident of winning it. We came very close last time and lost out but we are keen to seize the opportunity. It will be a very exciting game," he said on the eve of the game. 

While Dabang Delhi goes into the final as the underdog, it will take heart from the fact that it already beat Patna Pirates twice in the League this season.

Krishan Kumar Hooda, coach of Dabang Delhi, said his team would be wary of Shadloui. “It gives us immense pleasure to be in the final. This tournament is the best in the world and to be among the top two out of 12 teams is a special feeling. Patna Pirates are one of the most balanced sides in the tournament. They have got really good players who can turn the match around at any moment. But we also have a good team and we will make our strategies according to them.

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"Mohammadreza Shadloui will be among our top concerns, but we will make our plans for him. I am confident with my team and they have shown their capability throughout the season and in the semifinal. On the day, it’s anybody’s game, but I can guarantee that it will be a great final.”

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