Pardeep Narwal's UP Yoddha will continue its quest for a maiden title when it lock horns with Puneri Paltan in Eliminator 1, while Gujarat Giants will take on Pawan Sehrawat's Bengaluru Bulls, champions of season six, in Eliminator 2 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) on Monday.
Eliminator 1 - UP Yoddha vs Puneri Paltan
UP Yoddha started the season slow and won only one of its first seven matches, but then they picked up form when it mattered to racked up successive wins. One of the major factors in that turnaround was Surender Gill's performance. The young raider took responsibility when Pardeep Narwal was not performing and led his side to many a big win.
UP Yoddha boasts the league’s third-best raiding unit and the fifth-best defence and has a plethora of game changers in its lineup on both offence and defence. The team has picked up 19 Super Raids and 24 Super Tackles, both league-high marks. The team will take further confidence from the fact that Pardeep has finally found form and bagged three Super 10s in the last four games.
Puneri Paltan made a poor start and that meant it had a mountain to climb in the second half of the season. But against all odds, Anup Kumar's men picked up 44 out of a possible 55 points and qualified for the playoffs by a whisker. The turnaround was made possible by the two fresh faces in Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. The duo has made their way into the league’s leading points scorers, a stellar achievement in their debut campaigns. The side will will rely on these two young guns, along side the veterans in Nitin Tomar Vishal Bharadwaj, to guide it past UP Yooddha.
Eliminator 2 - Gujarat Giants vs Bengaluru Bulls
Gujarat Giants’ inconsistent form saw it placed outside the top for the majority of the season. But four wins and a tie in its last five matches saw the team sneak into the top six. The Giants' depth is its biggest strength. Rakesh, Mahendra Ganesh Rajput, Ajay Kumar and Pardeep Kumar have shared the raiding load and came up big when the Giants needed them to. The side's famed Cover duo of Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar has not been at its best this season, but has picked up form of late. With a young raiding unit and a defence that has the capability to be the best in the league, Gujarat Giants will be a tough nut to crack for the Bengaluru Bulls.
Bengaluru Bulls has made it to the playoffs for the third straight season. The main reason, unsurprisingly, has been captain Pawan Sehrawat. He became the first player in PKL history to score at least 250 points in three straight seasons. He created history in his last outing as he became the first player in league history to score a High 5 and a Super 10 in the same game. The playoffs are where Pawan comes alive - in his past four playoff appearances, the Bengaluru Bulls skipper has scored 73 points, a scarcely believable average of 18.25 points per game. The Bulls will rely on their leader to put in another big performance.