Match Day 20 Preview and Prediction

The Thalaivas were charged up after their thumping win over Jaipur

After two back-to-back triple-threat match-days in the Pro Kabaddi Season 9’s Pune caravan, the first double-header game of this leg is on the cards. The historic Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex of Pune will be the venue of this Matchday 20 action on Sunday from 7:30 PM onwards. 

The Super Sunday action of the PKL 9 will begin with a high-profile battle between the inaugural champions Jaipur Pink Panthers and the sixth edition winners Bengaluru Bulls. Then the saga will be moving onto the second and final clash of the day between the defending champions Dabang Delhi and the bottom-placed Tamil Thalaivas side. 

Match 42: Jaipur Pink Panthers vs Bengaluru Bulls 

Jaipur suffered a heartbreaking defeat against Tamil Thalaivas in their previous fixture where they were thoroughly dominated by the bottom-placed side. It was a consecutive losing outcome for the Pink Panthers who have managed their place in the Top 4 since the start of the season. 

The Namma Bulls are having a bouncy PKL 9 campaign as they have gone through a lot of ups and downs in a short span. However, the Red and Blacks have gained advantageous momentum after two massive triumphs over U Mumba and Tamil Thalaivas while holding Patna for a draw. 

This old rivalry between two Pro Kabaddi giants was quite one-sided in the favor of the Pink Panthers till the previous season however, the outcomes of Season 8 have turned the tide. The inaugural champions have a slight lead in this rivalry by 7-6 while a solitary result out of 14 encounters remained tied on a neutral scoreline. 

Last season, the Karnataka-based franchise completed a double over Sanjeev Baliyan and his unit which ruled out the current momentum aspect in their favor. 

The wounded Pink Panthers are eager to stage a bounce-back

The wounded Pink Panthers are eager to stage a bounce-back 

In the absence of Arjun Deshwal, the offensive unit of Jaipur surrendered before Tamil defense in the initial minutes of their recent clash. Hence, the Services raiding sensation had to step onto the mat as his crucial 9-point contribution minimized the losing difference for them. The raiding duo of Rahul Chaudhari and Ajith Kumar will have to step up and take responsibility if Arjun is not able to feature in the Starting Seven.

Bharat Hooda is proving himself as the prime contender for the Bull’s Player of the Season honour after leading their offensive charge magnificently. However, the big fish Vikash Kandola seems under pressure and is not able to play his natural game at his new home. The right-cover position is still a big problem for Bengaluru Boss Randhir Sehrawat as Rajnesh who started against Patna remained pointless throughout the 40 minutes. 

It is a contest between two sides that are stacked with high-profile raiding names in their artillery. Taking a glance at their defense department, Jaipur edges out their counterparts as two Panthers are currently standing on the list of the Top 5 highest-scoring defenders of the season. Many top sides have made big mistakes by undermining the young unit of Bengaluru and the inaugural champions won’t be taking a chance against them for sure. 

Predicted Starting Seven

Jaipur Pink Panthers: Arjun Deshwal, Rahul Chaudhari, Ajith Kumar; Reza Mirbagheri, Sunil Kumar (C); Ankush Rathee, Sahul Kumar 

Bengaluru Bulls: Vikash Kandola, Neeraj Narwal, Bharat Hooda; Mahender Singh (C), Rajnesh, Aman Antil, Saurabh Nandal 

Match 43: Tamil Thalaivas vs Dabang Delhi 

Coincidentally, the emergence of Dabang Delhi to the top and the inception of the Tamil Thalaivas franchise, both major events of the Pro Kabaddi League took place in the same season. Hence, the Capital-based franchise is enjoying its prime era by dominating this rivalry over the Thalaivas in a one-sided manner. 

These two combatants have quarrelled with each other on six occasions, Delhi has emerged victorious on five of them while the other one remained resultless. The Tamizhan Bosses came too close to spoiling Delhi’s unbeaten record but fell short on both face-offs of the previous season.

Delhi had the best title-defense campaign in the history of this league after ending up on the winning side in their first five out of five Season 9 fixtures. However, the Dabang Fauj crashed down after that and now struggling to find the winning way back. 

The Naveen Express arrives at the Pune Junction!

The Naveen Express arrives at the Pune Junction! 

The two consecutive losing outcomes brought captain Naveen Goyat and his fauj back to reality and also relived the competitiveness of Pro Kabaddi. On the other hand, Tamil fans are expecting a quick turnaround after the arrival of new gaffer Ashan Kumar and also keeping an eye on their wounded ‘Thala’ Pawan Kumar Sehrawat. 

It was highly expected that Ashan Kumar would bring Ajinkya Pawar back into the Starting Seven and the Maharashtrian assailant did not let his master down. It was quite evident that J Udayakumara failed to utilize the potential of Ajinkya and his vital contribution of 6 raid points against Jaipur proved it again. The Thalaivas are likely to field the same Starting Seven in order to avoid any changes in the winning combination.

To tackle the strong right-sided raiding unit of the Thalaivas, coach Krishan Hooda may go back to the veteran left-corner defender Sandeep Dhull. The youngster Vijay Redhu was the weakest link of the Dabang defense in their frustrating defeat against Bengal Warriors. The protagonist of Delhi’s PKL triumph, Vijay Malik was seen training hard for his comeback onto the battlefield and may make it to the substitute bench this Sunday. 

For the first time in this season, the prediction odds are against the table-toppers due to their ongoing rough patch which may get prolonged if they do not take the necessary wake-up call right away. Delhi attack has timely proved their temperament at such a level while the Tamil defense is renowned for their roughness and the combat between them is going to be a legendary one. 

Predicted Starting Seven

Tamil Thalaivas: Narender Kandola, Ajinkya Pawar, Himanshu Yadav; M Abhishek, Mohit Jakhar; Sahil Gulia, Sagar Rathee (C)

Dabang Delhi: Naveen Goyat (C), Manjeet Sharma, Ashu Malik; Vishal Lather, Ravi Kumar; Sandeep Dhull, Krishan Dhull