PKL: Telugu face UP, Delhi take on Gujarat (Preview)

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Hyderabad, July 31 (IANS) Hosts Telugu Titans will look to avoiding a third consecutive defeat when they face debutants UP Yoddha, while Dabang Delhi will meet debutants Gujarat Fortunegiants on the fourth day of the fifth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) here on Tuesday.

After defeating U Mumba in the tournament opener on Friday, Telugu fell to double defending champions and Bengaluru Bulls in their next two Zone B matches at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here.

Especially in the third match, the Telugu players looked tired as it was their third match in as many days. A day’s break on Monday may help them recover and regroup ahead of the clash against UP Yoddha.

The problem for Telugu is they rely a lot on captain Chaudhari, as veteran Rakesh Kumar has looked pedestrian so far, while Vishal Bhardwaj, a decent raider, is yet to reach a level of a devastating attacker.

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Rahul, first player to effect 500 touch points in the history of the PKL, will need support from his defenders in Vinod Kumar, Rohit Rana and Sombir.

Rakesh, a three-time Asian Games champion with the Indian team, was excluded from the 2016 World Cup squad. And if he has to regain his slot in the national side, he needs to step up.

Their opponents, UP Yodhas boast of a very good mix of youth and experience in their squad. Raiders Nitin Tomar, the costliest player in the league with an auction fee of Rs 93 lakh, Rajesh Narwal (Rs 69 lakh) and Rishank Devadiga have experience and can dent any side.

The Lucknow side is fresh and must be raring to go but their young players, especially in defence, need to keep their focus and concentration.

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Another new team, Gujarat will too make their debut on Tuesday. They will face Delhi, who stunned everyone with their remarkable comeback against inaugural champions Jaipur Pink Panthers in a Zone A clash on Saturday.

Seasoned raider Sukesh Hegde has been handed the captain’s armband for Gujarat. During the past four editions with Telugu Titans, Hegde showcased his impressive raiding skills, collecting 209 points at an average of 4.27 raid points per match despite the heavy presence of Rahul.

Star defenders Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mohajermighani are big names in kabaddi, with the former being adjudged best defender in the previous edition of the league. The Iranians are corner defenders and with them in the team, Gujarat have strong defensive base.

South Korean all-rounder Seaongryeol Kim is another key utility player for them, providing multiple options.

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Rakesh Narwal and Amit Rathi join Hegde in the raiding department.

In Tuesday’s contest Atrachali and Mohajermighani will have to restrict their compatriots Meraj Sheykh and Abolfazl Maghsodlou. It will be an intriguing contest between the Iranians.

Delhi have very experienced defenders in Nilesh Shinde, Sunil, Bajirao Hodage and Viraj Vishnu Landge, who should make the capital outfit slight favourites.

(Abhishek Purohit can be contacted at [email protected])



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