In-form teams Puneri Paltan and U.P. Yoddha will face each other on Monday in Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 while Telugu Titans will be searching for their first win of the season against defending champions Bengal Warriors.
Coach Anup Kum'r's Puneri Paltan have three wins in their last five matches after a stuttering start to their campaign. But in Yoddha they face another rejuvenated side with star raider Pardeep Narwal also regaining form.
Both Pune and U.P. started the season poorly but have managed to pick up momentum in their recent outings. Nitin Tomar's comeback has given much-need experience to the young Pune team.
He clinched important raid points and a High 5 in an all-round performance against rivals U Mumba in their previous match. But Pune's hopes will once again hinge on their star raider Aslam Inamdar.
The youngster has been a standout star for Paltan with his smart toe touches and reverse half kicks. His strength and ability to raid on both corners will be a challenge for U.P.'s experienced corner pairing of Sumit and Nitesh Kumar.
U.P.'s raiding trio of Pardeep Narwal, Surender Gill and Shrikant Jadhav will look to take advantage of the eagerness in Pune's defence. Both Vishal Bhardwaj and Baldev Singh have a tendency to commit to early tackles which the raiders will look to exploit. Pardeep has been effective picking points when 6 or more opponents are on the mat - something Yoddha will look to take advantage by substituting him correctly.
The second game of the night will feature Telugu Titans taking on Bengal Warriors. The Titans are yet to register a win this season with Siddharth Desai out. Defending champions Bengal have struggled too with their over-reliance on Maninder Singh for the points.
Bengal Warriors have a win and a tie in their last two matches, but the defending champions have generally struggled to replicate Season 7 form. Maninder Singh has been the sole performer for the Warriors with their Irani combo of Abozar Mighani and Mohammad Nabibakhsh not at their usual best.
Luckily for them, the Titans have been having an equally challenging season. Rajnish and Ankit Beniwal have performed admirably in the raiding department, but the team has often lacked the composure required to clinch the wins. Captain Rohit Kumar's bizarre decision to choose himself as the raider in a Super Tackle situation probably cost Titans points against Yoddha.
The Titans' plan should be to stop Maninder Singh at all costs. Sandeep Kandola will be the main man for the job but stopping the Bengal captain will require a team effort. Titans also need to use all-rounder Adarsh more effectively. He has found points in his limited opportunities to raid and can be a surprise element for the Warriors.