Patna, February 17: The unfinished argument between league leaders Patna Pirates and the Puneri Paltan will continue tomorrow at the Patliputra Sports Complex. Having never won against their rivals in the first two seasons,the visitors who came closer to beating them in Pune a few days ago, will be wondering how to deal with the hostile home crowd and a rival who seems to almost do nothing wrong. The other match will see a fight between cellar teams, Bengaluru Bulls and Dabang Delhi K.C. Both have to raise their game to demonstrate that they belong to this elite league.
The Patna Pirates and PuneriPaltan will be back to full strength after that 30-30 humdinger the latter pulled off with the help of Ajay Thakur’s last raid worth two points. The key men in this clash again will be Ajay, Manjeet Chhillar and Deepak Hooda for the visitors and Pardeep Narwal, Sandeep Narwal, captain Manpreet and the third Narwal, Deepak in case he is required by the home side. And how one can forget Rajesh Mondal the maverick?
Manjeet has so far been the most imposing player in the league. The tall and powerful Pune captain is an all-rounder any team would love to have. He has exhibited his class and needs to goad his teammates to achieve their prime target of making the top four and this match for Pune is a first step towards that. There have been murmurs of some disagreement between the captain and coach which the Pune boys need to dispel with a standout performance and this is the most opportune moment.
Pune have been suffering due to a weak defence where Prashant Chavan is a mere passenger. But with Deepak and Surjeet back on duty Manjeet will have fewer headaches for himself in defence. He will be free to plot newer strategies to counter the guiles of Pardeep and Rohit Kumar. Remember the way Pardeep got him five times with deft hand touches in the last match! The battle within a battle between Manjeet, Surjeet and the former twosome will be exciting and should decide the final outcome. If Ajay Thakur fires then the visitors may just about upset their rivals’ apple cart.
But the ‘X’ factor in this clash will be the duo of Rajesh Mondal and Deepak Narwal. It will depend on how and when the home coach Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan decides to unleash both in case his original plans don’t click. And don’t discount the presence of Hadi Oshtorak who is looking confident after getting an opportunity to prove his worth. For Pune the performance of the consistent Surendra in raiding will be crucial.
Pune has been grappling to get their combination of the first seven correct and Baliyan knowing that will exploit the deficiency to the hilt. Tushar Patil, Nilesh Salunkhe, Manoj Dhulland a couple of others haven’t got the exposure to do well in a crunch match and the policy of the Pune management to waste two slots by naming their foreigners leaves little room for trying out emergency plans.
Bengaluru Bulls may find the going a bit difficult as they will have to deal with Kashiling Adake who can devastate any opponent on his day. Surjeet too has been efficient. But can he fight alone? What has happened to Ravinder Pahal and Rohit Choudhary who were so impressive and effective last season?
Coach Balawan Sigh Dahiya who is a relative unknown in Kabaddi circles hasn’t been able to instill confidence in his players. His frequent outbursts have already earned him the wrath of the match officials. He has been sent off to the ‘sin-bin’ twice with a yellow card.Losing his composure are signs of desperation in the ranks. Dabang Delhi K.C. has to get the equation right if they want to salvage some pride.
Bengaluru will need an improved performance, especially from Surjeet Narwal. Relying only on the tall and cunning Amit Rathiisn’t enough. Will Randhir Singh pose faith in Vinoth Kumar? Will he encourage Shrikant Tewthia and Deepak Kumar Dahiya to up their game? Bengaluru have had enough time to overcome their transfer woes. It’s time they shake off that bogey of inexperience and play without undue pressure. For they say, ‘fortune favours the brave’ and Dabang Delhi K.C. are opponents whom they should not be scared of!