The Inter Zone Challenge Week is bound to present some rare meetings between teams in the two zones in VIVO Pro Kabaddi. One such matchup will see Tamil Thalaivas take on Haryana Steelers for only the second time ever at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Their only previous encounter took place in Season 5 and ended with the teams sharing the spoils as they played out a 25-25 tie. The star corners from both teams starred on the night as Surender Nada led Haryana Steelers with seven points whereas Amit Hooda scored a team-leading six points for Tamil Thalaivas.
Match 62 (Inter Zone Challenge Week): Tamil Thalaivas vs. Haryana Steelers
Head-to-head: 1 tie.
Following five straight defeats, Tamil Thalaivas have picked up two wins in their last three matches, leaving them 11 points behind third-placed Patna Pirates who have played two more games. Tamil Thalaivas produced their best performance so far in Season 6 in their previous outing, beating U.P. Yoddha 46-24. All seven starters managed to score a point and four of them scoring six and more. Manjeet Chhillar and Amit Hooda combined to register 14 tackle points while Sukesh Hegde and Ajay Thakur scored nine raid points each.
Haryana Steelers kept their hopes of a Playoff berth alive with a sensational victory over home team U Mumba on Sunday. Raider Vikash Khandola was outstanding on the night with 15 raid points, including scoring the game-winning two-point raid in the last minute of the match. Right Cover Sunil and rookie raider Naveen scored five points each for their side, helping them earn their first win over U Mumba in Season 6 after two losing twice to them earlier in the campaign.
The big battle
Amit Hooda vs. Vikash Khandola
Amit Hooda has accounted for 29.41 per cent of Tamil Thalaivas’ tackle points in Season 6 and has been a major player at Right Corner for his team. His tally of 25 tackle points is bettered only by Manjeet Chhillar’s 32 for Tamil Thalaivas and has also provided 11 assists proving his worth in defence for his side. Hooda was outstanding in Tamil Thalaivas’ victory over U.P. Yoddha, scoring six tackle points in just seven attempts.
Vikash Khandola’s outstanding season continued as he drove his side to victory over U Mumba with a 15-point performance in their previous encounter. With those 15 points, Khandola is up to 98 points for the season and with just two more will achieve his first ever 100-point campaign in VIVO Pro Kabaddi.
Hooda had gotten the better of Khandola in their only career duel so far, allowing the raider to pick up zero raid points while tackling him twice. Given his form, Khandola will be raring to even the scores against Hooda, while the Right Corner will be hoping to continue his good record against the young raider.
Ajay Thakur – Tamil Thalaivas
Tamil Thalaivas may have had a stop-start campaign so far but the one constant for the franchise has been captain Ajay Thakur. The veteran raider is already up to 96 raid points for the season and with four more will become the third player to reach 100 raid points in Season 6. His only game against Haryana Steelers saw him score only a solitary point in six raids and Thakur will be keen to improve his record against the team from the north.
Sunil – Haryana Steelers
Rookie Right Cover Sunil had a night to remember in Haryana Steelers’ previous outing against U Mumba, scoring his second career High 5 in just his 12th game in VIVO Pro Kabaddi. While scoring 23 tackle points so far in his debut campaign is impressive enough, Sunil also leads the team in assists alongside Khandola with 16, showcasing his innate ability to recognise a tackle opportunity.
The 25-25 tie that Tamil Thalaivas and Haryana Steelers played out in Season 5 was the third-lowest scoring tie in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history.