Mumbai, Jan 2 (IANS) After missing their first chance to enter the final of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Gujarat Fortunegiants will take on a confident UP Yoddha in the second qualifier of the tournament at the NSCI Dome here on Thursday.
Gujarat were hammered 29-41 by Bengaluru Bulls in the first qualifier on Sunday and the latter became the first team to seal a final berth thanks to the thumping victory.
The Sunil Kumar-led Gujarat side witnessed a poor performance from their defenders in the game against Bengaluru and the team management will certainly hope its defenders to step up in the must-win contest.
Sunil and ace defender Parvesh Bhainswal, who has been the main strength of Gujarat’s defence, completely failed to click in the last game. While Sunil was pointless, Parvesh could only manage one point from five tackles.
Parvesh and Sunil with 82 and 69 tackle points respectively are at the third and fourth spot among the leading tackle point scorers of the ongoing season and will need to recover from that bad game quickly.
Gujarat’s raiding department will once again be on the shoulders of Sachin, who has accumulated 171 points from 21 games, averaging 8.1. He will seek support from K. Prapanjan, who has 112 points from 20 games with an average of 5.6.
On the other hand, UP will aim to maintain their winning run after being unbeaten in their last eight games.
During this eight-game unbeaten run for UP, Nitesh Kumar has been brilliant after scoring 36 tackle points, averaging 4.5 tackle points per game. Meanwhile, Jeeva Kumar has also stepped up after forming a potent right corner-left cover combo with Nitesh and this partnership has been key in taking down most of the opposition raiders.
Jeeva Kumar has 20 tackle points during this eight-match unbeaten run for UP.
In the raiding department, the responsibility will be shouldered by their star trio comprising skipper Rishank (99 raid points), Shrikant Jadhav, who has 134 points, and Prashanth Kumar Rai, who has been their most consistent raider through the season with 139 raid points from 20 matches, averaging 7.3.
The two sides have met twice in the league with Gujarat emerging victorious once while the other affair ending in a tie.
Overall, an interesting contest is on the cards as none of the team will try to miss a chance to enter the summit clash of the cash-rich league after covering a three month long journey.
(Kaushik Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])