The second eliminator of vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 7 playoffs at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Monday will see Season 2 champions U Mumba take on Haryana Steelers.
The two teams have an even head-to-head record in Season 7 with either side winning one of their previous two encounters. Haryana Steelers had a 30-27 victory in Match 49 while U Mumba won 39-33 in Match 130.
League stage record (W-L-T): 12-8-2
After a slow start to their season, where they were unable to get even two wins on the trot, U Mumba found their feet towards the end of the season and come into the playoffs on the back of a run of four games without defeat. Their 26-point victory over Jaipur Pink Panthers in Match 68 remains their biggest win this season.
Best Raider – Abhishek Singh
Though U Mumba owed some of their early inconsistency to the lack of one main strike raider, Abhishek Singh soon came to the fore and assumed that role with his first 100-raid point season. Scoring 8 Super 10s and 135 raid points at an average of 7.1, the raider has peaked at the right time for U Mumba.
Though the team does not have the same second raider contributing consistently, they have a slew of talented raiders in Arjun Deshwal, Rohit Baliyan, Athul MS and, the more recently seen Ajinkya Kapre, who can turn the game on its head in a matter of a few raids.
Best Defender – Fazel Atrachali
‘Sultan’ Fazel Atrachali has truly lived up to his moniker in Season 7, leading the U Mumba defence from the front. He is just 5 tackle points shy of his most successful season as a defender and it could just be a matter of one game for him to get there. Fazel is currently the most successful defender in Season 7 with has 78 tackle points at an average of 3.31.
The Iranian has found strong support in defence from Sandeep Narwal (51 tackle points) in the opposite Corner and Surinder Singh (48 tackle points) in the Covers, making U Mumba one of only two playoffs teams with 3 defenders in the top 20 tackle point scorers of the season.
League stage record (W-L-T) – 13-8-1
Haryana Steelers went on a seven-match unbeaten streak once their talisman Vikash Kandola returned to the team and took a comfortable position in the league standings. However, they faced some uneven form after that as they were unable to stitch together a run of even two successive victories in their next seven matches. This sat them finish fifth on the table in spite of their early surge.
Best Raider – Vikash Kandola
Vikash Kandola’s contributions have been instrumental to the side’s victories this season with the raider contributing 178 of their 460 raid points. This already makes Season 7 his most successful season yet in terms of raid points scored. He also has the highest Not-Out percentage of his career this season at 79.89%. With 6 Super Raids and 10 Super 10s to his name, Kandola will be eager to reach the 200-raid point mark in his upcoming matches.
Haryana Steelers also boast of a well-balanced raiding unit with two raiders having more than 100 raid points in the season already and Prashanth Kumar Rai not far behind on 82. The flexibility this provides coach Rakesh Kumar in attack give Haryana Steelers a huge edge.
Best Defender – Sunil
Right Corner Sunil has shone through in a defensive unit consisting of the experience of Dharmaraj Cheralathan and the strength of Ravi Kumar and Vikas Kale. The Corner has 55 tackle points to his name and is just four short of reaching 100 tackle points in his vivo Pro Kabaddi career. He already has three High 5s this season and also got the first Super Tackle of his career.
The rest of the defence has also shown good balance as Sunil has contributed just one-quarter of the team’s 220 tackle points. Ravi Kumar is their next best defender with 53 tackle points and skipper Dharmaraj Cheralathan is on 42.