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Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) 8 Preview: Now-or-never time for top teams in the Playoffs race

Bengaluru, February 18: Puneri Paltan will be hoping to get closer to a well-deserved Playoff spot in Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 with a win against Bengal Warriors on Friday (February 18).

Pune staged a remarkable comeback after a poor start of the season, to be in the reckoning to challenge for a playoff spot, but Bengal Warriors will not be easy pushovers. The 2019 champions' ego was hurt after they dropped out of the Playoff race and transformed that energy into a mauling of Tamil Thalaivas in their previous outing.

Pune have destiny in their own hands. A win and a tie should be enough to guarantee them a place in the Season 8 eliminators. They are a team in form with 3 wins and a tie in their last 4 matches.

Coach Anup Kumar's team is driven by youngsters across the mat. In the attack, they have the potent duo of Mohit Goyat and Aslam Inamdar. They have racked up the raid points as the season progressed while corners Sombir and Vishal Bhardwaj have guarded the defence.

Bengal will be buoyed by the return of form from Mohammad Nabibakhsh. The dynamic Iranian all-rounder had an unusually poor season but produced a stunning performance against the Thalaivas to remind everyone of his quality.

Pune will need to stop the Nabibakhsh - Maninder Singh combination to beat the Warriors. It won't be an easy task, but Pune's youngsters have the ability to play without fear on the mat.

The second match of the night will see Dabang Delhi K.C. lock horns with Telugu Titans. Delhi will need a win to ensure they have a chance to stay in the Top 2 and skip the eliminator round.

Telugu Titans have just 1 win to their name in the entire season which will have the likes of Delhi's Naveen Kumar and Vijay licking their lips at the possibility of a raid fest. The error-prone Telugu defence should give Delhi ample opportunities to pick up points which should force the team to star youngsters like Neeraj Narwal and Ashu Malik.

The final match of Triple Panga Friday will see Tamil Thalaivas battle Gujarat Giants. Two-time finalists Gujarat are still in the race for a playoff spot but will need 2 wins in their remaining 2 matches. They have lost just 1 match in the last 5 which will certainly give coach Manpreet Singh's men the confidence.

Points difference will also be important which means they should concentrate on getting big wins. Thalaivas are already out of the Playoff race and might field a weak side to give the entire squad an opportunity. Bengal beat the Tamil team by 31 points in their last outing which will give hope to the Giants.

Gujarat's cover combination of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal will once again be required to be in good form. The likes of Manjeet and Himanshu can create problems if allowed to settle down. Girish Ernak in the right corner will also need to be wary of any pacy attacks.

Gujarat is a team that derives its energy from defensive stability - if the defence clicks the attack inadvertently shines. The trio of Pardeep Kumar, Rakesh Narwal and Ajay Kumar will be optimistic considering how Thalaivas' Surjeet Singh and Sagar have struggled in the recent matches. An aggressive strategy should see the Giants past the Thalaivas.

Source: PKL Media

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Story first published: Thursday, February 17, 2022, 18:02 [IST]
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