Jaipur Pink Panthers vs Puneri Paltan: Preview and Prediction
The moment that each and every Kabaddi fan around the globe was waiting for is finally here as we have got our two finalists of the Pro Kabaddi Season 9. The Grand Finale of the season featuring the heavyweights Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan will be taking place at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium of Mumbai on Saturday from 7:30 PM onwards.
The champions of the inaugural Pro Kabaddi edition are determined to recreate the historic and demolish their trophy draught of seven seasons. It will be the third Grand Finale appearance for the Rajasthan-based franchise and the first since the roster expansion as the most recent one came back in the fourth edition. Puneri Paltan who have achieved five playoff qualifications to date is set to make their final debut under the guidance of the gaffer BC Ramesh this Super Saturday.
The Iranian left-cover Reza Mirbagheri who missed Jaipur’s last league fixture due to fitness concerns made a stunning comeback. Despite having a great individual outing, Abhishek KS made way for Reza at the penultimate stage. Jaipur head coach Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan won’t be making any changes to the well-settled Starting Seven combination.
Right before the announcement of their Starting Seven for the Semi Final fixture, the Paltan management issued an official statement regarding the recovery status of Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. Pune also stated that the raiding duo is at the final stage of their recovery and is likely to be available for the Final. Gaurav Khatri who replaced the veteran Sombir Gulia in the Pune Seven bagged 4 tackle points at the strike rate of 80 to cement his place in the finals.
How have they done so far?
The Pink Panthers thrashed an in-form Bengaluru Bulls side which stormed into the first Semi-Final with a thumping victory over the defending champions in the eliminator encounter. V Ajith Kumar overshadowed the high-profile raiding names of the game and became the only Super 10 scorer of the fixture with 13 raid points under his helm.
Three players from the Jaipur roster, Sahul Kumar (10 tackle points), Sunil Kumar (5 tackle points) and Reza Mirbagheri (5 tackle points) achieved their individual High 5s in a single night.
On the other hand, the Orange Stallions ended the dream run of Tamil Thalaivas and knocked them out of the title race to barge into the Grand Finale in style. The youngsters Pankaj Mohite (14 raid points and 2 tackle points) and Gaurav Khatri (4 tackle points) played pivotal roles to keep themselves on the winning side of the 39-37 scoreline.
Meanwhile, the Iranian star all-rounder Mohammad Nabibakhsh once again proved his mettle in under-pressure circumstances by contributing 6 crucial points in the penultimate triumph.
Head to Head record
Two old foes who are battling out against each other right since the inaugural edition will be sharing the same battlefield for the 21st time at the grandest stage of Kabaddi. The head-to-head record of the 20 encounters between these two is favoring the Rajasthan-based franchise with 10 wins while their western counterparts have managed to emerge victorious on 8 occasions. The two winning outcomes for the Paltan earlier this season have helped them to reduce the head-to-head deficit.
In the first face-off of the season, the Maharashtrian ace all-rounder Aslam Inamdar led his hometeam to an emphatic 8-point victory after scalping 13 raid points. The Pink Panthers ended up on the losing side in the returning fixture too but somehow managed to fetch a consolation point by reducing the losing difference to 7 points. The Services sensation Arjun Deshwal’s diligent efforts went in vain despite 66% of the team tally of raid points at an astonishing strike rate of 95.
Sahul Kumar: When his team needed him the most, the Uttar Pradesh-based defender stepped out and delivered his career-best defensive figures. The right-corner defender attempted 14 tackles and succeeded at the strike rate of 71 to accumulate historic figures of 10 tackle points. Sahul will be presenting a tough challenge for the opposition left-sided raiders Aslam Inamdar and Akash Shinde in the Grand Finale.
Pankaj Mohite: The former Maharashtra vice-captain was the Most Valuable Player of the Semi-Final night after staging a miraculous comeback for the Paltan. Pankaj who was supposed to play the supportive role to Akash took the striking responsibilities and scored 14 raid points consisting of 13 touches and a solitary bonus. The two-time National medalist also attempted a successful Super Tackle by initiating the capture of Narender Kandola in the 5th minute of the first half.
Predicted Starting 7s
Jaipur Pink Panthers: Arjun Deshwal, Ajith Kumar, Rahul Chaudhari; Reza Mirbagheri, Sunil Kumar (C); Ankush Rathee, Sahul Kumar
Puneri Paltan: Pankaj Mohite, Mohammad Nabibakhsh, Akash Shinde; Sanket Sawant, Abinesh Nadarajan; Fazel Atrachali (C), Gaurav Khatri
It is quite hard to predict the winner of the Grand Finale battle where the two strongest units of the PKL 9 will be up against each other. The Pink Panthers have proved themselves to be the most successful defensive unit of the ninth edition while Pune’s depth and compatibility of the offensive department are the deadliest in the league.
Both teams will be heavily relying on their strengths and we may get to see the winner of this key combat gracing the champions podium on Saturday.