The first match on the eve of the Festival of Lights will see an explosive battle as Jaipur Pink Panthers face-off against Zone A rivals Haryana Steelers for the second time in VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 6 at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida on Tuesday.
Their previous encounter ended in an intense 36-33 victory for Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Sonepat leg of this season. Nitin Rawal accounted for 11 points on the night for Jaipur Pink Panthers, including eight touch points, in what was a solid outing for the all-rounder. Rookie raider Naveen starred for Haryana Steelers, scoring 17 points on the way to reaching the first Super 10 of his young career.
Match 50 (Zone A): Jaipur Pink Panthers vs. Haryana Steelers
Head-to-head: Haryana Steelers 2-1 Jaipur Pink Panthers. 1 tie.
Post their victory over Haryana Steelers Jaipur Pink Panthers have lost four straight matches, with the last three last coming at a score differential of 11 in each game. Jaipur Pink Panthers trail Gujarat Fortunegiants, who currently sit in the third and final Super Playoffs spot in Zone A, by 22 points, making a win against Haryana Steelers essential to their season. But having already beaten Haryana Steelers earlier in this campaign, Jaipur Pink Panthers will have the psychological advantage heading into their second battle against them.
Haryana Steelers fought valiantly and secured a much-needed 43-32 win over reigning champions Patna Pirates in their last outing. Their young raiding duo of Naveen and Vikash Khandola combined to score 19 raid points in the match, with Khandola getting his third Super 10 of the season. All-rounder Kuldeep Singh was brilliant in defence as he managed his second High 5 of the season and veteran Left Cover Sachin Shingade came on as a substitute to score four tackle points, limiting the impact of Patna Pirates’ raiders. Coach Rambir Singh Khokhar seems to finally have the right combination for his team and will be hoping to avenge the loss that they succumbed to earlier in the season against Jaipur Pink Panthers.
The big battle –
Vikash Khandola vs. Mohit Chhillar
Veteran defender Mohit Chhillar has led Jaipur Pink Panthers’ defence by example in Season 6, scoring 16 tackle points in the first six matches of the campaign. The Right Corner’s form has been a bright spark in a rather tough spell for Jaipur Pink Panthers and the team will be relying on the experienced Chhillar to neutralise the threat that the youthful Haryana Steelers offence possesses.
Vikash Khandola, who turned 20 this year, has shown maturity beyond his age in leading the Haryana Steelers’ offence and has been exceptional for the team. He has 68 raid points to his name this season and has managed three Super 10s in his nine matches so far. In his previous outing against Jaipur Pink Panthers, Khandola could only manage two raid points and he will be intent on putting up a better showing against that defence this time around.
Key Khiladi –
Nitin Rawal – Jaipur Pink Panthers
Despite playing as a Corner defender, Nitin Rawal’s contribution in offence has been brilliant for Jaipur Pink Panthers. Rawal has managed 22 raid points in just four matches this campaign, showcasing his all-round abilities. Rawal has happy memories against Haryana Steelers, having managed eight touch points to go with his three tackle points in the teams’ previous encounter. In the two teams’ tied game in Season 5 too, Rawal had an outstanding showing accounting for 12 of team’s 27 points on the night.
Naveen – Haryana Steelers
Rookie raider Naveen has earned immense praise from his team coach for his steady contributions this campaign. Naveen has accumulated 48 points in total for the team, of which 10 have been tackle points, proving that he is equally capable on the defensive end of proceedings. Naveen had a career-high 17 points against Jaipur Pink Panthers in their previous encounter, scoring over half of his team’s tally. A repeat of that performance would go a long way in securing a second straight win in this season for his side.