U.P. Yoddhas enjoyed a good vivo Pro Kabaddi season last time around but they will be eager to go at least one step further in the upcoming campaign after a semi-final exit in Season 8. They have been one of the more consistent franchises in the league, qualifying for the playoffs in every edition since their PKL entry in Season 5.
Their squad this season looks well-balanced with quality raiders and reliable defenders in their ranks. In attack, U.P. Yoddhas have the likes of Pardeep Narwal, Nitin Tomar and Surender Gill while the defence features top talents like Nitesh Kumar and Sumit, both of whom are widely regarded as one of the best corner duos in the league. Their defensive covers include reliable players like Ashu Singh and Shubham Kumar who further bolsters their defence.
Here’s a closer look at U.P. Yoddhas team composition for the upcoming season:
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Pardeep Narwal to spearhead exciting raiding trio
Pardeep Narwal is a name that needs no introduction for kabaddi fans. The only raider to cross the 1000 raid points mark in vivo Pro Kabaddi history, Pardeep didn’t have the best of seasons last time around but still managed to score 188 raid points. A three-time PKL champion, he has the ability to deal with pressure and get his team over the finish line in crunch situations as he’s demonstrated several times in the past. His inclusion in any team is certain to strengthen their attack as his mere presence on the mat is enough to be a cause of concern for opposition defenders. After roping him in for ₹1.65 crores ahead of Season 8, U.P. Yoddhas opted not to retain him initially ahead of the Season 9 player auction. However, they weren’t prepared to let him go ahead of the new campaign either and eventually used their FBM card to buy back the elite raider for ₹90 lakhs.
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Besides Pardeep, U.P. Yoddhas have also got other star raiders like Nitin Tomar and Surender Gill, making them a formidable attacking force. Nitin has scored 490 raid points in vivo Pro Kabaddi history and can be an asset for the Yoddhas. Surender Gill on the other hand, took charge of the raiding department for U.P. Yoddhas last season and made his presence felt by finishing the campaign as the team’s highest-scoring raider with 189 points, one raid point more than Pardeep. Needless to say, U.P. Yoddhas fans can expect plenty of action in attack with their trio of top-quality raiders.
U.P. Yoddhas’ coach Jasveer Singh retained one of the best corner duos in vivo Pro Kabaddi by tying down Nitesh Kumar and Sumit. Both Nitesh Kumar and Sumit are known to complement each other on the mat and have been a reliable defensive duo for the Yoddhas over the past two seasons. Nitesh Kumar and Sumit are adept at keeping opposition raiders quiet and off the mat thanks to their telepathy-like connection when in action. However, the U.P. Yoddhas defence isn’t just about them as one glance at their squad shows us the depth of their team. Iranian Abozar Mighani, who has played 85 vivo PKL matches and has collected 203 tackle points is another solid defensive option for them.
Right cover Ashu Singh, who has scored 91 tackle points for U.P. Yoddhas in the last two seasons, makes for yet another reliable defensive presence just like Shubham Kumar who made his vivo Pro Kabaddi debut last season and scored 31 tackle points for the Yoddhas. He’s most likely to be their first choice as left cover in Season 9.
Furthermore, U.P. Yoddhas have plenty of fringe players like Gulveer Singh, Kenyan raider James Kamweti, Aman and Nitin Panwar who will be keen to break into the side, meaning that one can expect lots of healthy competition for places within the squad.
Heading into the upcoming season, there’s no doubt that U.P. Yoddhas will be brimming with confidence thanks to the personnel in the team and one can be rest assured that they will fancy their chances of going all the way to the final in their quest for a maiden vivo Pro Kabaddi title.