The second day of the new year will see Gujarat Giants lock horns with Haryana Steelers in Pro Kabaddi League season 8.
Both sides are desperately seeking wins to build the momentum and stay on course for a play-off position. Both Gujarat Giants and Haryana Steelers have just one win to their name this season.
Their clash will be followed by Bengaluru Bulls’ match against bottom-placed Puneri Paltan. Bulls, under captain Pawan Sehrawat, have looked well-balanced while Puneri Paltan have found it tough to get their act together. Both matches will be played at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru – the fixed venue for Season 8 of PKL.
Gujarat and Haryana have good defensive units which might lead to a low-scoring encounter. Giants’ coach Manpreet Singh is renowned for his defence-first strategy in PKL. His team recruited Girish Ernak and Ravinder Pahal at the auctions to add strength to an already strong team featuring Parvesh Bhainswal and Sumit. But in the process, Gujarat failed to add much-needed firepower to their raiding unit. Rakesh Narwal has been their sole performer this season.
The Giants’ attackers will be up against the Haryana defensive duo of Surender Nada and Jaideep. Both players have been on the points for the Steelers but surprisingly their attacking trio of Vikash Khandola, Rohit Gulia and Meetu Mahender hasn’t clicked.
Their one victory of the season came on the back of a Super 10 from Meetu which should force coach Rakesh Kumar to alter his strategy against the Giants. Gujarat usually rely on a fast start to the match and then defending their lead, something Haryana will be keen to prevent in the encounter.
Pawan Sehrawat is once again showing the form that made Bengaluru Bulls the Season 6 winners. The star raider has been single-handedly winning matches for the Bulls with multiple Super 10 performances. His form is working magic on his teammates as well with the defenders such as Mahender Singh rising up to the challenge after stuttering in the initial matches.
The Puneri Paltan defence will find it tough against the Bulls especially with Vishal Bharadwaj and Sanket Sawant struggling on the left side of the mat. Sanket failed all his attempted tackles in the previous which could lead to coach Anup Kumar shuffling the starting seven. They will once again be relying on his young core of Aslam Inamdar, Pankaj Mohite and Mohit Goyat.
The three have shown enough promise in the early games and could be the standout stars for the team from Pune. “Showman” Rahul Chaudhari’s lack of form and senior raider Nitin Tomar’s injury will mean Puneri Paltan go into the match as underdogs.