In-form Patna Pirates will take on Season 1 champions Jaipur Pink Panthers on Friday in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.
Patna goes into the match on a 6-match unbeaten streak, but Jaipur will be equally confident after halting Delhi's run in their previous match. Arjun Deshwal and Deepak Hooda will once again need to be on top of their game against a defence marshalled by Iranian Mohammadreza Shadloui.
The second match of the night will see Bengaluru Bulls lock horns with Gujarat Giants. The Bulls outclassed Dabang Delhi KC in their previous encounter and will be looking to sustain the momentum against a Giants team with just 2 wins this season. Both the matches will be held at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru.
Patna might not boast a superstar in their ranks but what they have is a plethora of small stars who combine to make a powerful team. Coach Ram Mehar Singh's three-time champions have been very impressive throughout the season, largely due to their team effort. Their raiding trio of Monu Goyat, Sachin and captain Prashanth Rai have picked up valuable points and assisted each other which has made it difficult for opponents to plan their defence.
But Jaipur knows a thing or two about stopping teams in momentum. In their previous match, the Panthers overcame a confident Delhi and Naveen Kumar with Sahul Kumar and Sandeep Dhull impressing in the defence. They will have to once again be on top of their game against Patna who also boasts a strong set of defenders. Their covers Sajin C. and Neeraj Kumar have found form in the recent matches and will be eyeing the battle against Jaipur raider Arjun Deshwal. Luckily for Arjun, his teammate Deepak Hooda is finally starting to look in his best shape which should add another dimension to the Panthers attack.
Pawan Sehrawat scored 27 points in the Bulls' thrashing of Delhi and will be looking to do the same against a struggling Giants defence. Coach Manpreet Singh had both his experienced corners Ravinder Pahal and Girish Ernak missing in Gujarat's previous match but will be hoping his experienced team can find answers to Pawan's dominance.
Rakesh S. has been one of the emerging raiders of the tournament and he will once again be expected to shoulder the raiding responsibilities for the Giants. Mahendra Rajput also had a good outing against the Telugu Titans that should win him a place in the starting 7.
Bengaluru Bulls' 39-point victory against Delhi was the second biggest win in the history of PKL but coach Randhir Singh Sehrawat perhaps missed a trick by not giving his secondary raiders more opportunities. The likes of Chandran Ranjit and Bharat could have scored more points to gain confidence for the long season ahead. It will be interesting to see how they perform against a defence that is likely to send Pawan to the dugout a lot. (ANI)