The business end of the Pro Kabaddi season 7 (PKL 2019) is here, with the eliminators set to take place in Ahmedabad on Monday. Dabang Delhi KC and Bengal Warriors, the top two teams, have automatically qualified for the semifinals while the other teams in the top six will play the eliminators to progress to the semis.
The first eliminator will see U.P. Yoddha and defending champion Bengaluru Bulls locks horns, while the second contest sees U Mumba take on Haryana Steelers.
Eliminator 1: Bengaluru Bulls vs UP Yoddha
While the Bulls have a better overall record against Yoddha, winning five of their eight meetings, this season has seen UP come out on top in both their encounters.
In the first clash of the season, UP edged Bengaluru 35-33. Though the Bulls outscored Yoddha 22-16 in raid points, they got outscored 15-10 on tackle points while UP got two all-outs. Pawan Sehrawat managed 12 raid points, but no other raider was able to get going.
The teams met again for the second time in the final match of the season’s league stage, when UP won by a bigger margin (45-33) – helped by three all-outs.
Pawan, who starred for the Bulls in both the games, will be hoping to be one the winning side on Monday. Speaking ahead of the eliminator, he said, “The league stages were tough but it allowed us to study our opponents as we played them more than once. We have a strategy in place against UP Yoddha’s strong defensive squad and we will do our best to ensure we retain the title.
His counterpart, Nitesh Kumar, the youngest captain in the league, believes that the team’s two wins in the season will give the players a lot of confidence heading into the eliminator.
“The team has worked and prepared hard to ensure that we give our best against a strong offensive Bengaluru Bulls team,” he said. “During the league stage, we won both games against Bengaluru Bulls which helps our confidence but this one is going to be the toughest and a win will take us into the semifinals.”
Eliminator 2: Haryana Steelers vs U Mumba
In the two times the sides clashed this season, both teams claimed a win each. In the first game, Haryana won 30-27, riding on Vikas Khandola’s impressive performance to take a 16-8 lead into halftime. Helped by substitute Abhishek Singh’s six raid points, U Mumba reduced the deficit but ran of time to complete the comeback.
In the second encounter, U Mumba won 39-33 in Haryana’s final match of the league stage. Fazel Atrachali’s five tackle points, and nine raid points each for Ajinkya Kapre and Dong Geon Lee saw U Mumba register a comfortable win that also helped it finish above the Steelers in the table. Overall, U Mumba has the better head-to-head record with five wins from their eight meetings.
Steelers’ captain Dharmaraj Cheralathan sounded confident ahead of the match. “We have had a good league stage, the team performed well and built on their strengths, which brings a good balance to our team. We won a match and lost the other one against them. For the Eliminator, we will be looking to execute a strategy based on our learnings from the previous games,” the veteran said.
U Mumba’s skipper Fazel Atrachali knows that it is a “do-or-die” match for his team. “During the league stage, if we lose one match, we know we have a chance to go back and work on our mistakes to improve. If we lose tomorrow’s match, our season is over,” said the Iranian skipper. “Haryana is a strong team and they will come with a plan to limit us. But as a team we are confident, we will give our 100 per cent and aim to win the match.”
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