PKL Preview: Pirates take on Thalaivas; Bulls hope to continue the charge

Both, Pirates and Thalaivas, have not had one stand-out star in Season 8 but are sitting comfortably on third and fifth spots

Bengaluru Bulls
Bengaluru Bulls. (Photo credit: Twitter)

In-form teams Patna Pirates and Tamil Thalaivas will lock horns with each other on Thursday (January 6th) in vivo Pro Kabaddi League Season 8. Both teams, despite losing star players at the vivo PKL auctions, have well-balanced squads and will be eyeing to sustain their unbeaten run. The match will be followed by Bengaluru Bulls’ encounter against Jaipur Pink Panthers. Both games will be played at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru – the fixed venue for Season 8 of vivo PKL.

A team effort

Both, Pirates and Thalaivas, have not had one stand-out star in Season 8 but are sitting comfortably on third and fifth positions respectively on the points table (as on January 5th). What both teams have done successfully is hunt and defend in packs. Monu Goyat, Sachin and Prashanth Rai have formed a fearsome trio for Patna in the attack. They have compensated for the loss of Pardeep Narwal with their clever raiding, fully understanding their potential and limitations. But in Surjeet Singh and Sagar, they face a right defence in red-hot form. The Tamil pair got 8 points in their previous match against U.P. Yoddha and will fancy another defensive shutdown against the Pirates.

Thalaivas’ raiding unit of Manjeet, Bhavani Rajput and K. Prapanjan haven’t fared badly either. Manjeet, especially, has impressed with his smart raiding, using his height and reach to good advantage. Ajinkya Pawar, a substitute against Yoddha, who chipped in with useful points for coach Udaya Kumar’s team, might also be in the reckoning for a starting spot.

In Sajin C and Mohammadreza Chiyaneh, the Pirates have a more than capable defence to fight fire with fire. Both defenders are known to go for their tackles and will eye Manjeet, who favours the left side to raid. The match has all the makings of a high-voltage vivo PKL clash.

Arjun Deshwal needs assistance

It is usually a sign of a successful team when a raider scores Super 10s in all the matches. But Jaipur Pink Panthers have struggled so much in defence and attack that Arjun Deshwal’s solo raiding brilliance has not really made a difference to the points table. The young raider has 68 points from 5 matches for the Pink Panthers, but captain Deepak Hooda has not been able to assist him properly. The lack of a good raider, especially with the defence struggling, has been costing Jaipur dearly.

Defenders Sandeep Dhull and Vishal haven’t been able to replicate the form we associate with the duo. Shaul Kumar has also been error-prone in the cover position which has forced coach Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan to try different combinations in his defence.

Bengaluru go into the match on a 5-match unbeaten run. Against Pune, they showed the depth of their reserves by overturning a 5-point lead in the second half. Well-rested raiders Pawan Sehrawat and Chandran Ranjit will be licking their lips at the prospect of attacking an out-of-shape Jaipur defence.

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