As an action-packed first leg at Hyderabad came to an end on Thursday, all teams now teams look ahead to the Nagpur leg which commences from Friday at the Mankapur Indoor Stadium. A new venue is sure to bring new challenges and it will be interesting to see which teams are equal to the challenge and which fall behind. We take a look here at the opening ties of the Nagpur leg.
Match 12 (Zone B): Bengaluru Bulls vs Tamil Thalaivas
After a last-minute change of venue, Bengaluru Bulls will head into their home leg with their tails up as they made short work of Telugu Titans in their opening game last Sunday. Captain Rohit Kumar will look to continue his brilliant raiding form and run through debutants Tamil Thalaivas, who lost their only game of the season so far to the Titans 32-27 in what also was the season opener.
The Thalaivas will depend a lot on the performances of captain Ajay Thakur and Game One’s star raider K. Prapanjan. The duo kept the attack together in that match and will have to replicate their efforts against the Bulls, if they are to have any chance. The defence, led by right corner Amit Hooda, let the team down against Telugu Titans, and on Friday they will be looking to make amends against the rampaging Kumars - Rohit and Ajay Kumar.
The Bulls, meanwhile, will look to keep their winning combination intact in their second derby game of the season. The attacking duo of Rohit and Ajay was ably supported by Ravinder Pahal and Mahender Singh in defence, and the team barely displayed any weakness in their 31-21 win against the Titans. Again, they will look to put in a similar clinical performance.
Match 13 (Zone A): Puneri Paltan vs Dabang Delhi K.C.
Head-to-head: Puneri Paltan 4: 3 Dabang Delhi K.C.
The second game on Friday will see Deepak Hooda’s Puneri Paltan take on Dabang Delhi K.C. led by Iranian raider Meraj Sheykh. The Paltan managed to oust a much-fancied U Mumba side in their opening game thanks to the heroics of Hooda and Sandeep Narwal, while Dabang Delhi K.C. were made to fight hard in both their matches, managing one victory and one loss.
Dabang Delhi K.C. rode on the fiery raids by Sheykh and Abolfazl Maghsodlou to stage a brilliant come-from-behind win in their opening match against Jaipur Pink Panthers. However, their over-dependence on the Iranian duo was exposed in their next game as debutants Gujarat Fortunegiants managed to clinch victory by keeping the Delhi captain on the sidelines for a significant part of the match. Taking a lot of heart from raider R. Sriram’s performance in the last match, Delhi will look to utilise him to better effect in their game against the Paltan. Their main defenders Nilesh Shinde and Bajirao Hodage also struggled and will look to regain their footing against the Paltan.
The Puneri Paltan defensive combination of Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Girish Maruti Ernak and Narwal managed to keep the prolific raiders from U Mumba quiet for a good part of their opening match and will go into Friday’s match high on confidence. If they can manage to keep the Dabang Delhi K.C. raiders from scoring, then the pressure will be off raiders Hooda and Rajesh Mondal allowing them to play more freely.
Catch the action live 8 pm IST onwards on the Star Sports network and hotstar.