Defending champion Dabang Delhi will take on U Mumba in the opening fixture of PKL 9. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the fixture..
The high-octane season opener, part of a triple header itinerary for day 1, will take place at the Shree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.
Head to head | Played: 18 | UM: 12 | DD: 5 | Tie: 1
The two teams have faced each other 18 times in PKL history with U Mumba enjoying the better head-to-head record with 12 wins.
Areas of concern: Inexperience and workload management
Both teams will look to get their campaigns off to a winning start. U Mumba is without Fazel Atrachali who has moved to Puneri Paltan and while the side might need to get used to not having his leadership on and off the mat, it allows for the left corner to have better solidity with a player in form.
U Mumba’s inexperience is evident in all levels of the unit. A new coach, Anil Chaprana takes over from Rajguru Subramaniam. Guman Singh, part of Patna Pirates’ raiding unit last season, now finds himself needing to rally the attack in U Mumba. He does not have the cushion of Sachin, Monu, or Prashant Kumar Rai to support him. U Mumba has always had a defense-first approach, largely due to Fazel Atrachali’s effectiveness at the back but how soon this side proves its raiding mettle will be crucial to its chances this season.
U Mumba’s defense continues to be encouraging. Vishal Mane’s late entry into the team is a big boost to the team. Mane, along with Surinder Singh and Rinku Sharma can give this team the solidity it requires. Guarding against advanced tackles and better coordination among the chains will be key to their success.
For Dabang Delhi, the fitness of Naveen Kumar, their talismanic raider and now the captain is crucial. Naveen suffered a gruesome knee injury last season which ruled him out for a couple of games and Delhi’s dependence on the youngster was exposed. He will hope to avoid a similar scenario this time.
“We are the Defending Champions so we are confident that we will perform well in this season as well. I used to play for the team earlier as a player and now I will still play for the team as a Captain. I will have to take our team forward. A person gets stronger with responsibility so I will keep my responsibilities in mind and play well this season,” Naveen said ahead of the opening fixture.
Naveen will need Vijay Malik to support him once more as teams steer toward multi-pronged attacks as the seasons go by. Coach Krishan Hooda will need to manage Naveen’s workload carefully this season.
The side has bolstered its defense with Sandeep Dhull and Ravi Kumar Choudhary, but Dhull will need to be more consistent if Delhi has to figure a way to plug leaks in its defense.
Where can you watch Dabang Delhi vs U Mumba PKL 9?
Pro Kabaddi Season 9 will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar from 7:30 PM onwards on Friday