Gujarat Fortunegiants, who made their debut in Season 5, are only the third team in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history to make it to back-to-back finals – after U Mumba and Patna Pirates – and assessing their campaign, it was always in the offing.
Gujarat Fortunegiants finished the league stages of the season with a record-setting 17 wins, two ties and only three defeats, amassing 93 points and surpassing their own mark of most points by a team in a league-season of 87 points set last year. They failed to pick up at least a point in only one of their 22 fixtures, an indication of their stupendous consistency over the course of the league season.
Against the teams in Zone A, Gujarat Fortunegiants finished with a record of 11 wins, one tie and three losses, picking up 58 points out of a possible 75, the best tally among all teams in their zone. In the Inter-Zone matches, Gujarat Fortunegiants were quite flawless, winning seven of their eight fixtures and tying once, thereby scoring 38 points out of a possible 40, which was also the best tally by any team in Season 6.
They started the season off slow, losing one and tying another of their opening two fixtures, but followed that up with a run of seven straight wins, inserting themselves in a two-way battle with U Mumba for the top spot in Zone A which they eventually won. During this run of seven victories, raider Sachin came to the fore and scored 50 raid points at a quality average of 8.33 as he led his side in offence for the second season running. Over the course of the season, the raider has scored 180 raid points, bettering his tally of 159 from the previous campaign.
Gujarat Fortunegiants finished their home leg with a record of four wins, one tie and a loss, scoring 24 points out of a possible 30; a tally bettered only by Dabang Delhi K.C. who were also the team that handed Gujarat Fortunegiants their first ever defeat at the Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad.
The highlight of their home leg was the form of Left Cover Parvesh Bhainswal, who scored 24 tackle points in just six matches at an outstanding strike rate of 75. His best performance came against U Mumba, where he inspired his team to a come-from-behind victory aided by his two magnificent Super Tackles.
Bhainswal’s and captain Sunil Kumar’s form has been one of the major factors for Gujarat Fortunegiants’ success this campaign. While it was their Corner duo of Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani who led the way in Season 5, Gujarat Fortunegiants’ young Cover defenders stepped up and took over the mantle this campaign and have led the defence in stellar fashion.
Bhainswal and Kumar have combined to score 156 tackle points in Season 6, the best tally by any Cover duo in a single season in the history of VIVO Pro Kabaddi, and currently rank second and fourth, respectively, in the race for Best Defender. The two versatile defenders, who are well-versed at filling in the Corner position as well, have been crucial to their team’s victories this campaign.
Just like in Season 5, Gujarat Fortunegiants’ defence has been prolific this season and they are one of only three teams to have managed over 250 tackle points this campaign. They rank second in the league in average tackle points with 11.08 and have inflicted the joint second-most All Outs in Season 6 with 35.
Thanks to their outstanding defensive setup and excellent raid unit, Gujarat Fortunegiants have conceded the second least number of All-Outs this campaign with 18; two more than U Mumba who have played a game fewer. They are midtable in terms of Super Tackles scored but given the fact that they have managed the second most successful tackles this season, this reflects how rarely Gujarat Fortunegiants face a situation where they are down to three or fewer defenders on the mat.
Defensive steel and an efficient raiding unit have helped Gujarat Fortunegiants set the record for most wins in a single campaign by a team with 18 to their name. But having lost the final in Season 5, Gujarat Fortunegiants will want to settle for nothing less than win number 19 and their maiden VIVO Pro Kabaddi title on Saturday.
The VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6 final will see Bengaluru Bulls battle Gujarat Fortunegiants at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium on Saturday.