U.P. Yoddha are one of seven teams that haven’t won a vivo Pro Kabaddi title yet and this is something they would want to change in the eighth season commencing next month.
U.P. Yoddha made their league debut in 2017, following which they have not once failed to make it to the play-offs which establishes them as a massive force to reckon with. And this season they will look to improve on their performances in a big way with the arrival of the ‘Record-breaker’ Pardeep Narwal.
Here we take a look at the strengths of the team and their chances of going all the way in their fourth attempt.
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Pardeep boost for the Yoddhas
U.P. Yoddha succeeded in securing the services of Pardeep Narwal for a record ₹1.65 crores, making him the second most expensive non-cricket athlete. He has undoubtedly been one of the biggest raiding forces of the league since its inception in 2014 scoring 1,160 raid points in 107 games. He also orchestrated Patna Pirates’ three titles in a row from 2016-2017 with stunning performances that include a record 8-point raid in season 5 - a feat that is still unmatched.
His arrival, as well as the retention of Shrikant Jadhav – who has 392 raid points in 76 games to his name – will definitely boost their chances in the upcoming season. Jadhav was retained at the auction for ₹72 lakh. With these two leading the pack, U.P. Yoddha’s raiding strategies will revolve around the duo.
Existing New Young Player Surender Gill is another player to watch out for. The tall raider scored 71 raid points last season in 18 games and will look to achieve even greater glory this time around. Apart from these raiders, Sahil, Gulveer Singh and Ankit will be expected to provide sufficient back-up to ensure a strong show.
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Illustrious defensive trio retained
Nitesh Kumar, Sumit and Ashu Singh were stalwarts for U.P. Yoddha last season and this time too, the Yoddhas will be banking on their services. While right corner Nitesh contributed 75 tackle points in 23 games last season, left corner Sumit and right cover Ashu contributed 77 and 41 tackle points respectively. These three were retained by the team ahead of the auction, further highlighting how valuable they are.
Sumit and Ashu fall in the Existing New Young Players category, while Nitesh falls in the Retained Young Players category. Aashish Nagar and Gaurav Kumar are the other defenders who will look to make a name for themselves for U.P. Yoddha in the upcoming season.
Overseas players rounding out
Iranian raider Mohammad Taghi, who represented Bengal Warriors last season has had limited appearances so far in the vivo Pro Kabaddi but is expected to feature more frequently this season. All-rounder James Kamweti, who has represented Kenya in multiple international competitions, will make his vivo Pro Kabaddi debut for U.P. Yoddha this season.
In all, the Jasveer Singh-coached team does appear to have a very promising squad on paper. Narwal is going to be a key figure in their campaign to all intents and purposes, and if he can replicate his famous Patna Pirates performances in U.P. Yoddha colours this season, there is no doubt that the Greater Noida-based outfit will massively fancy their chances.
vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 8 starts 22 December, 2021. Catch all the LIVE action on the Star Sports Network and on Disney+Hotstar and follow Pro Kabaddi on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for all the latest updates!