After 132 intense and engrossing matches, six teams remain in the hunt for the VIVO Pro Kabaddi crown. Tonight, four teams will slug it out for a place in the semifinals.
In Eliminator 1, U.P. Yoddha will take on Puneri Paltan, while in Eliminator 2, Gujarat Giants will battle Bengaluru Bulls.
Check out our preview for both games:
Eliminator 1: U.P. Yoddha vs Puneri Paltan
U.P. Yoddha started the season slow and won only one of their first seven matches. But then they picked up form and racked up wins, largely due to the immense contribution of raider Surender Gill. U.P. boast the league’s third-best raiding unit and the fifth-best defence. U.P. have a plethora of game changers in their lineup on both offence and defence. The team picked up 19 Super Raids and 24 Super Tackles, both league-high marks. U.P. were one of the favourites to win the title before the season commenced and they now have the chance to achieve their ultimate goal.
Puneri Paltan's dreadful start to the season left with them a mountain to climb in the second half of the season. But against all odds, the Paltan picked up 44 out of a possible 55 points and qualified for the playoffs by a whisker. The turnaround was made possible by rookies Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. The duo has made their way into the league’s leading points scorers, a stellar achievement in their debut campaigns. Pune will rely on these two young guns to guide them to a semi-final appearance at the very least.
U.P. Yoddha vs Puneri Paltan head-to-head
U.P. Yoddha hold a 7-4 lead in their head-to-head matches against the Puneri Paltan. This season, U.P. won the first game between the two sides 50-40, while the Paltan won the second 44-38.
Eliminator 2: Gujarat Giants vs Bengaluru Bulls
Gujarat Giants’ inconsistent and up-and-down results had them outside the top for the majority of the season. But four wins and a tie in their last five matches helped them secure a place in the top six. The Giants' depth is their biggest strength. Rakesh, Mahendra Ganesh Rajput, Ajay Kumar and Pardeep Kumar have shared the raiding load and came up big when the Giants needed them to. Their famed Cover duo of Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar haven’t been at their usual best this season but have picked up form of late. The Giants have earned their place in the playoffs on merit, and they will be tough to beat for any team they come up against.
The Bengaluru Bulls find themselves in the playoffs for the third straight season. This is the first time in franchise history that they team has qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive campaigns. The main reason, unsurprisingly, has been Pawan Sehrawat. This year, the raider became the first player in vivo PKL history to record three straight seasons with at least 250 points. He created history in his last outing, as he became the first player in league history to score a High 5 and a Super 10 in the same game. The playoffs are where Sehrawat comes alive. In his past four playoff appearances, the Bengaluru skipper has scored 73 points, a scarcely believable average of 18.25 points per game. The Bulls will rely on their leader to put in another big performance.
Gujarat Giants vs Bengaluru Bulls
The Gujarat Giants have won four and lost three of their eight matches against the Bengaluru Bulls. One game between the two sides has finished in a tie. Their first meeting this season finished in a 46-37 win for the Bulls, while the second saw Gujarat record a 40-36 win. The two teams have met twice in the playoffs, both times in Season 6. The Bulls won both matches.
PKL Schedule for Monday, February 21
Eliminator 1: U.P. Yoddha vs Puneri Paltan, 7:30 PM IST
Eliminator 2: Gujarat Giants vs Bengaluru Bulls, 8:30 PM IST
Where to watch VIVO Pro Kabaddi live?
Catch all the LIVE action from VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 8 on the Star Sports Network and LIVE streaming on Disney+Hotstar.