Tuesday sees the return of the Inter-Zone Challenge Week in Season 6 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi as Puneri Paltan take on Telugu Titans at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai.

This game marks the first encounter between the two sides since Puneri Paltan emerged victorious in their only clash last season. Puneri Paltan skipper Girish Maruti Ernak starred for the side in that match, scoring six tackle points, while Rahul Chaudhari and Mohsen Maghsoudlou managed to combine for 15 raid points for Telugu Titans.

Match 60 (Inter-Zone Challenge Week): Puneri Paltan vs Telugu Titans

Head-to-head: Puneri Paltan 4-5 Telugu Titans. 1 tie

Having last played a game more than a week ago, Puneri Paltan will be refreshed after their loss to U Mumba. Nitin Tomar’s probable return after missing that game should serve as a timely boost for the side since their starting seven managed only two raid points in the game against U Mumba. However, they managed five Super Tackles which will do their defenders’ confidence a world of good. Akshay Jadhav’s form will also please Puneri Paltan and he could play a vital role against a defensively strong Telugu Titans side.

Telugu Titans missed skipper Vishal Bhardwaj’s services in their previous loss to Bengal Warriors. Iranian Farhad Milaghardan tried to shore up their defence and returned a High 5 but the understanding between the Corners that was bringing them victory in previous games was lacking. After a quiet start to the season, Rahul Chaudhari’s return to form also bodes well for Telugu Titans. He and Nilesh Salunke scored eleven of the team’s thirteen raid points in the defeat to Bengal Warriors which showed that the offence is still running well. The return of Bhardwaj will definitely bolster the unit and could make the difference as they look to break their winless streak.

The big battle

Girish Maruti Ernak vs Vishal Bhardwaj

The battle of the two skippers will be key in determining the outcome of this game. Vishal Bhardwaj returned nine tackle points in the last game he played and tops the list of defenders with the highest average tackle points for Season 6. While he averages a humungous 4.33 tackle points per game this season, his average against Puneri Paltan is just 3 and if they can hold him to that once again their chances of victory could increase significantly.

Puneri Paltan captain Girish Maruti Ernak is their top defender. He is joint-fourth in the best defenders list for this season. The captaincy has even seen him improve on his tackle point average this season and he will want to ensure that Puneri Paltan continue to enjoy a better head-to-head record in terms of tackle points; the only record that favours them in their battles with Telugu Titans.

Key Khiladi

More GB- Puneri Paltan

With Puneri Paltan heavily reliant on Nitin Tomar in the raiding department, the performance of their secondary raiders becomes very important to revive Tomar if he is sent off the mat. More GB has shown that he is equal to that task and the defensive strength he adds, as displayed in his two Super Tackle effort against U Mumba, will be vital against a Telugu Titans side that boasts of one of the best raiders currently playing the game.

Abozar Mohajermighani- Telugu Titans

Averaging four tackle points a game, Right-Corner Abozar Mohajermighani is Telugu Titans’ leading defender this season. Whenever he and Vishal Bhardwaj have been present on the mat together, the opposing raiders haven’t been able to get away any easy points. This understanding could prove crucial to deny Puneri Paltan any bonus points, something the team has managed to do very well up to this point in the league.

Factor This –

Telugu Titans’ lead raider Rahul Chaudhari has just one Super 10 so far in this season. At the same stage last season he had three Super 10s.