After an enthralling opening day of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6, where the fans were served with their first derby match of the season, the action resumes on Day 2 as Puneri Paltan take on Haryana Steelers, followed by Tamil Thalaivas locking horns with U.P. Yoddha at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. The Thalaivas will be on a high after a comprehensive win over Patna Pirates while Pune will want to take back positives from their tie against U Mumba. We take a more detailed look at these two matchups.
MATCH 3 (Zone A) - Puneri Paltan vs. Haryana Steelers
Head-to-head: Puneri Paltan 2-1 Haryana Steelers. 1 Tie
After missing out in the first two seasons, the Puneri Paltan made it to the Super Playoffs of VIVO Pro Kabaddi in Season 3, 4 and 5. Despite their consistency, they are yet to make it to the final of the competition. But, equipped with a balanced team, the Paltan will be hoping to extend their streak of making it to the Super Playoffs and go one further this time to be among the top contenders in Season 6 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi.
They had a bit of a scare in their opening game against U Mumba, but were rescued by Nitin Tomar’s efforts. Both Deepak Kumar Dahiya and Rajesh Mondal scored just one point between them but the combination does give the Paltan a good mixture of depth, versatility and experience in offence. In defence, they are led by the mercurial Girish Maruti Ernak, who narrowly missed out on a High 5 against U Mumba. Sandeep Narwal, meanwhile, has more than enough experience to get into the mix.
The Steelers made an impressive debut in Season 5, finishing third in Zone A but were beaten by eventual champions Patna Pirates in Eliminator 2. Led by stalwarts Surender Nada and Wazir Singh, the Steelers nevertheless left a huge impression.
The Haryana roster boasts of an incredibly talented squad. They acquired the services of Monu Goyat in the auction, who finished fourth in the Top Raiders list in Season 5. With Wazir Singh and Vikash Khandola in the squad, the Steelers have assembled a dynamic raiding unit, capable of running through the opposition defenders at will.
In defence, Season 5’s Best Defender Surender Nada will lead the way for the Steelers. Nada, who led the league with 80 tackle points in Season 5, will be supported by Vikash in the opposite Corner and veteran Cover Defender Sachin Shingade, making them a formidable defensive unit.
The big battle
Monu Goyat vs. Girish Maruti Ernak
The key to Puneri Paltan’s victory would lie in their ability to contain Monu Goyat and newly-appointed captain Girish Maruti Ernak will have to lead the way for his side in achieving so. Goyat, who finished fourth in the Best Raiders List in Season 5, possesses the ability to take over a match single-handedly and Ernak and his team have a task at their hands trying to neutralise this threat.
Sandeep Narwal – Puneri Paltan
The seasoned Narwal, with his ability to affect the game on either side of the mat, will be a key player for Puneri Paltan. He scored 85 points for the Paltan in Season 5, but was able to notch up just 2 tackle points in their opening game. He has a point to prove and expect him to put in a much improved effort.
Wazir Singh – Haryana Steelers
With 107 raid points in 21 games in Season 5, Wazir Singh was a major contributor in Haryana Steelers’ impressive debut campaign. The Steelers will need Singh to perform well this season as well, to make a run at the VIVO Pro Kabaddi title.
MATCH 4 (Zone B) - Tamil Thalaivas vs. U.P. Yoddha
Head-to-head: Tamil Thalaivas 2-1 UP Yoddha. 1 tie
A battle between the sophomores sees Tamil Thalaivas take on U.P. Yoddha. The two teams had contrasting fortunes in their debut campaign in Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi. While the Thalaivas finished bottom of the table in Zone B, the Yoddha made it to the Super Playoffs, bowing out of the competition in Eliminator 1 against the Patna Pirates. However, having defeated champions Patna Pirates in their opening game, the Tamil Thalaivas confidence will be on a high.
Captain Ajay Thakur led the way for the side, managing a Super 10 in his very first match. They picked up Manjeet Chhillar and Jasvir Singh to their roster from the auction who showcased their experience by putting up a strong all-round show in their debut for the Thalaivas. Amit Hooda was in a league of his own as well and the confidence with which he tackled Pardeep Narwal on the opening day will do the team a world of good.
U.P. Yoddha made it to the Super Playoffs in their debut season on the back of some incredible raiding by newly-appointed captain Rishank Devadiga. His rise from being a secondary raider to Anup Kumar at U Mumba to being one of the most sought-after raiders in the game has been meteoric. The team will hope that the added responsibility of being the captain will improve Devadiga as a player and, having surrounded him with quality players in offence as well as defence, the Yoddha will look to make a deep run in the competition this season.
U.P. Yoddha are stacked in the raiding department. Captain Devadiga will be supported by Prashanth Kumar Rai, Rohit Kumar Choudary and the experienced Shrikant Jadhav in attack. In defence, Super Tackle specialist Jeeva Kumar will partner the team’s most successful defender from last season, Nitesh Kumar, along with Sachin Kumar in the Corner, making them a team to be wary of.
The big battle
Ajay Thakur vs. Jeeva Kumar
When an unstoppable force like Ajay Thakur meets an immovable object like Jeeva Kumar, there are bound to be fireworks. Thakur, who scored 14 points in the first game, will have to keep an eye on Kumar, as he possesses the ability to single-handedly wallop a raider, proven by his season-high 7 Super Tackles in his previous campaign.
Manjeet Chhillar – Tamil Thalaivas
A former MVP in Season 2 and the all-time leader in tackle points, Chhillar is one of the most decorated players in the history of VIVO Pro Kabaddi and will be keen to prove his mettle, especially after showing glimpses of his flair in the opening game.
Rishank Devadiga – U.P. Yoddha
U.P. Yoddha management believe that Devadiga is ready to lead the team and the raider, who scored 165 raid points in 21 games in Season 5, will be keen to pay back the trust that the franchise have shown in him by opening the team’s account in Season 6 with a win.