After 134 grueling matches, only four teams remain in the hunt for the VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 8 title.
In the first semi-final, Patna Pirates will face their former star Pardeep Narwal and his new side U.P. Yoddha. In the second, Pawan Sehrawat and the Bengaluru Bulls will look to avenge their loss in last year’s semi-final against Dabang Delhi.
Check out our preview for these two gripping ties:
Semi-final 1: Patna Pirates vs U.P. Yoddha
After missing out on a playoff berth in the last two seasons, the Patna Pirates roared their way into the semi-finals in Season 8. They won 16 matches and finished 11 points clear of second-placed Dabang Delhi with a score difference of +120, the largest in PKL history.
Their defence is not only great but it’s historically great. Only two teams have averaged more tackle points in a season than the Pirates have in Season 8 (12.23) – U Mumba in Season 6 (12.57) and Season 2 (12.25). Mohammadreza Chiyaneh has led the Pirates’ defensive unit by example. The rookie has scored nine High 5s this season, joint-most in a PKL campaign alongside Surjeet Singh and Surender Nada. A 10th would go a long way in helping the Pirates inch closer to an unprecedented fourth PKL title.
Standing in their way are the red-hot U.P. Yoddha. They booked their playoff berth with five wins in their last six matches and then beat the Puneri Paltan 42-31 in Eliminator 1 to advance to the semi-finals. Pardeep Narwal was the star of the show against Pune with 18 points, as he led U.P. to their maiden semi-final appearance.
The Record-Breaker will now look to break the hearts of the team with whom he shattered every record during his five-year stint. Patna and Pardeep were synonymous with each other. They won three titles together but decided to part ways after two poor seasons by their lofty standards, and now face each other with a place in the PKL final on the line. A titanic tussle awaits U.P. and Pardeep will be gunning to get one over his former side.
Patna Pirates vs U.P. Yoddha head-to-head
The Patna Pirates hold a 5-4 lead in their head-to-head series against U.P. Yoddha. One game between the two sides finished in a tie. They split the season series 1-1, with U.P. winning the first and Patna emerging victorious in the second.
Semi-final 2: Dabang Delhi vs Bengaluru Bulls
Dabang Delhi finished second on the points table, but it has been far from an easy campaign for last year’s beaten finalists. Naveen Kumar, who got off to a hot start this season, picked up a knee injury midway through the campaign and has been struggling ever since. Vijay has stepped up in the reigning MVP’s absence, while Ashu Malik and Neeraj Narwal have also made timely contributions.
Delhi’s defence has been surprisingly poor this season. They are averaging only 8.41 tackle points per game, which ranks 11th in the league. Only one other team in PKL history has made it to the playoffs while averaging fewer tackle points in the league stage than Delhi has this season (Bengal Warriors with 8.27 in Season 5). The defence will need to bring their A-game and Naveen will have to deliver a big performance if Delhi are to reach the final for the second straight year.
The Bengaluru Bulls’ rough form in the second half of the season put their playoff participation in jeopardy. But they managed to do just enough to finish in the top six and make it to the playoffs. They trounced the Haryana Steelers 46-24 in their last league stage match before putting on a clinical show against the Gujarat Giants in Eliminator 2 and beating them 49-29.
The star of the show on both nights was skipper Pawan Sehrawat, who scored a Super 10 and a High 5 against the Steelers and 13 points against the Giants. The Hi-Flyer surpassed the 300-point mark for the season during the Bulls’ win over Gujarat and became only the second player to record multiple campaigns with over 300 points. Bengaluru will bank on their skipper to guide them past Delhi and into the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League final.
Dabang Delhi vs Bengaluru Bulls head-to-head
Dabang Delhi have won eight and lost six of their 16 matches against Bengaluru Bulls. The two teams have shared the spoils twice. Bengaluru trounced Delhi 61-22 in their first meeting this season, while the second finished in a 36-36 tie.
This is the second straight season where the Bulls and Delhi will go head-to-head for a spot in the final. Delhi beat Bengaluru 44-38 in their semifinal clash last season.
PKL Schedule for Wednesday, February 23
Semi-final 1: Patna Pirates vs U.P. Yoddha, 7:30 PM IST
Semi-final 2: Dabang Delhi vs Bengaluru Bulls, 8:30 PM IST
Where to watch VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 semi-final live?
Catch all the LIVE action from VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 on the Star Sports Network and LIVE streaming on Disney+Hotstar.