On Friday, the league stage of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 comes to an end in Pune. While the first match will see Zone B toppers Bengal Warriors aiming to enter the playoffs with a flourish against Telugu Titans, the second match of the evening will be the one to savour as Puneri Paltan hope to end their home leg with a win against the formidable Gujarat Fortunegiants to enter the playoffs as Zone A leaders. Here’s the lowdown on how the teams stack up against each other.
Match 131 (Zone B): Telugu Titans vs Bengal Warriors
Head-to-head: Telugu Titans 3-5 Bengal Warriors. 2 ties
With nothing to lose, Telugu Titans have shown vigour in their last few matches having lost just one of their last five encounters. With a change of captaincy and the return of Rahul Chaudhari’s much-needed form, the Titans are sure to go all out in their last match of the season. The defence has young prodigies in the form of Sombir and Vishal Bhardwaj, who will aim to thwart the Warriors raiders. The attack has both Chaudhari and Nilesh Salunke in hot form, and the Warriors got to be a little wary.
Entering the match as confirmed Zone B toppers, Bengal coach Jagdish Kumble may field a new team and rest some of the star players. Presently on the back of three consecutive wins, there will be no better opportunity for the Warriors to test their bench strength and give their youngsters some exposure. The defence has been solid for the Warriors this entire season but they will to be a little careful against an in-form Chaudhari.
Khel Kabaddi Khiladi:
The Titans talisman was having a hard time before giving up captaincy brought him back to his devastating best. He is presently on a Super 10 spree and will aim to bow out with a hero’s display.
The Warriors skipper has fulfilled his captaincy duties perfectly this season and is definitely a mastermind on the mat. If he can be taken out of the equation, the Titans can break Bengal’s foundation. With his solid dashes and powerful blocks, Surjeet is a man every attack needs to be wary of.
Match 132 (Zone A): Puneri Paltan vs Gujarat Fortunegiants
Head-to-head: Puneri Paltan 0-2 Gujarat Fortunegiants
Paltan are enjoying a satisfactory home leg having won three of their five encounters so far. They sit second in Zone A, just three points behind Gujarat. A win tonight will see them overtaking Gujarat to enter the playoffs as zone leaders, which means much less hassle to reach the final. Hence, a full strength team will be fielded which may mark the return of both Girish Maruti Ernak and Sandeep Narwal to the side. However, Deepak Hooda’s men need to mentally get over the thrashing they received at the hands of Gujarat in their home opener to snatch a win.
Fortunegiants, meanwhile, have been touted by many as the strongest team this season. After holding onto the Zone A top position for the majority of the league, they will go all out to ensure they don’t lose it at the last step of the league stage. Having defeated Pune each time they have met this season, they will be high on confidence. Some high-octane action is on the cards definitely!
Khel Kabaddi Khiladi:
Deepak Hooda has been the pillar of strength for Pune this season. Every time he has failed to perform, the team has suffered and hence his presence on the mat is of utmost importance. With the Pune crowd spurring him on, he is sure to go all out.
Sukesh Hegde’s 15 points proved decisive for Pune when both the teams met last time. With the dangerous Sachin and Chandran Ranjit around, Hegde will aim to replicate that performance to see his team over the line.
Catch the action live from Pune on Star Sports network and hotstar from 7.30 pm onwards.