It’s the Maharashtra Derby Day in vivo Pro Kabaddi on Thursday.

Fifth-placed U Mumba will take on the 11th-placed Puneri Paltan in Season 8’s first Maharashtra Derby. But before that, defending champions Bengal Warriors will take on Tamil Thalaivas in the first game tonight.   

Check out our preview for both matches:

Match 51: Bengal Warriors vs Tamil Thalaivas

The defending champions have had a horrid run of results of late. They have lost four of their last five matches and sit 10th on the points table. Skipper Maninder Singh has been the only silver lining so far this season. The raider is one of only four players to breach the 100-point mark this season. The Warriors’ issue has been their defence. They have scored the fewest tackle points in the league (62) and conceded the fifth-most points (301). Coach BC Ramesh will have to find ways to fix the defence before his team slumps even further on the points table.

The Tamil Thalaivas were in fine form in their previous game, beating the Haryana Steelers 45-26. While the team was spectacular overall, Surjeet Singh and Sagar were sensational. The defensive duo combined to score 15 tackle points, with Surjeet picking up eight and Sagar finishing the game with seven. They are the league’s top two tackle points scorers this season and key to the Thalaivas’ excellent start to the season. The Thalaivas could climb to third with a win on Wednesday, and they will settle for nothing less than five points.

Bengal Warriors vs Tamil Thalaivas head-to-head

The Bengal Warriors have won seven and lost one of their eight matches against the Tamil Thalaivas.

Match 52: U Mumba vs Puneri Paltan

U Mumba were on the receiving end of a crushing 43-23 loss against the Patna Pirates in their previous outing. The team struggled on offence, as they often have this season, and finished the game with just 12 raid points while giving up 18 tackle points. U Mumba’s defensive discipline has been key to their success this season, but their raiders need to step up and perform more consistently for the team to have a shot of embarking on a deep run in the playoffs this season.

The Puneri Paltan won just one of their first five matches this season, but their fortunes seem to be taking a turn. Coach Anup Kumar’s men have picked up victories in two of their last three outings and are just seven points behind U.P. Yoddha, who currently occupy the final playoff spot. Raider Aslam Inamdar has fast emerged as one of the favourites to win the Debutant of the Year award with his impactful performances on offence and defence. He scored a career-best 17 points against the Bengal Warriors in Puneri Paltan’s last outing. The team will be hoping he can continue his sparkling form in the Maharashtra Derby against U Mumba.

U Mumba vs Puneri Paltan head-to-head

U Mumba have tasted Derby Day delight more often than their rivals. In their head-to-head series, they hold a 9-5 record against the Puneri Paltan. The teams have shared the spoils twice. 

PKL Schedule for Thursday, January 13

Match 51: Bengal Warriors vs. Tamil Thalaivas, 7:30 PM IST

Match 52: U Mumba vs. Puneri Paltan, 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.