With legend Anup Kumar joining Puneri Paltan as chief coach ahead of the seventh season, the team will go into the tournament with renewed energy this year. Players like Nitin Tomar, Girish Ernak and Surjeet Singh will try to make this PKL season a memorable one for the Pune fans.
How they performed in the previous season?
With a new coach in Ashan Kumar Sangwan, the Pune-based franchise started the sixth season on a good note with one tie and three wins in their first four matches. However, after some good show ion the initial phase, their star raider Nitin Tomar had to leave the league mid-way due to an injury and the performance of the side dropped as well. Tomar had exactly 100 raid points from 11 matches before being ruled out off the tournament last year.
Struggling to get a proper raider to chip in for the team towards the last few games, Pune finished the season at the fourth position on the Zone A points table with 52 points. They only won eight out of their 22 games and failed to go past Dabang Delhi by a huge margin to make it to the playoffs of PKL 2018.
Who are the star players for the Paltan?
Nitin Tomar, like PKL 6, will be the greatest star for the Paltan in the upcoming season as well. As discussed earlier, Tomar had a brilliant raiding average last year and will want to remain fit for the entire three-month long season to contribute to the team’s success this time, something he couldn’t last year due to an injury. In their defence, Girish Ernak and Surjeet Singh, the two experienced men will be the players to look forward to in the Paltan camp.
Puneri Paltan squad:
Nitin Tomar, Manjeet, Surjeet Singh, Girish Maruti Ernak, Darshan Kadian, Pawan Kumar Kadian, Satpal, Amit Kumar, Emad Sedaghat, Jadhav Balasaheb Shahaji, Hadi Tijak, Deepak Yadav, Sagar B Krishna, Shubham Shinde
SportsCafe’s starting 7:
Centre – Nitin Tomar
Left in – Manjeet
Right in – Darshan Kadian
Left corner – Sagar Krishna
Right corner – Shubham Shinde
Left cover – Girish Ernak
Right cover – Surjeet Singh
What is their strength?
Before going into the auctions, Puneri Paltan had decided not to retain a single player from their last season’s squad. However, with Anup Kumar at the helm in the auctions, they decided to bring back both Tomar and Ernak for Rs 1.20 crore and Rs 33 lakh respectively. The team’s strength remains in their raiding department and after struggling to find a good back-up raider for Tomar last time around, this year they brought in players like Manjeet from Patna Pirates, Darshan Kadian and Pawan Kadian. Spending a huge amount of 63 lakhs for Manjeet, who played as a second raider in Pardeep Narwal-led side, shows wait the player is capable of doing this year. The strong raiding unit with some quality youngsters can be fine-tuned with someone like “Bonus ka Badshah” Anup as there in the camp to guide them properly.
Where they might fall behind other teams?
In spite of having two experienced and quality defenders in the side, this department seems to be having some concerns ahead of the start of the league. Both Ernak and Surjit were not effective at all for the Paltan and Bengal Warriors respectively. Both of them led their respective teams and were rash with their tackles which eventually affected the team’s performance as well.
Ernak, basically a left corner defender, might be seen at the cover position considering his rash tackles last year and lack of a proper left cover in the team. The team will have to bring in inexperienced Sagar Krishna to stand at the corner position. With Shubham Shinde expected to take the mat at the right corner, the corner combination of the Paltan might well be the weakest in the league. Both Krishna and Shinde played very less number of games in the previous edition of the PKL. With additional pressure of handling the entire defence of the team, it remains to be seen how the experienced duo of Ernak and Surjeet step up during the upcoming tournament.
Why one should support Puneri Paltan?
After Haryana, Maharashtra is considered a hotbed for kabaddi and the excitement among the public is quite high. The people of the state know about the sport and with the advent of the league and the awareness about the teams and the players from the region on social media, the fan flowing of Paltan has certainly seen a drastic growth.
With top players like Nitin and Girish and a legendary former player Anup Kumar as a coach, fans have every reason to come and watch the team play in front of them on the mat during the seventh season of the league.
When they will play their games?
Pune’s home leg will begin on 14th of September when they will face Gujarat Fortunegiants. But, they will start their campaign on July 22 against Haryana Steelers in Hyderabad. The home matches will be played at the Sree Shiv Chhatrapati Stadium at Balewadi in Pune and the fans will wait eagerly for the Maharashtra derby between Pune and U Mumba. The two teams from the state will be up against each other twice in the first round, on July 27 and September 5.
July 22 vs Haryana Steelers in Hyderabad
July 27 vs U Mumba in Mumbai
July 29 vs Bengal Warriors in Mumbai
August 4 vs Patna Pirates in Patna
August 5 vs Gujarat Fortunegiants in Patna
August 10 vs Dabang Delhi in Ahmedabad
August 15 vs Jaipur Pink Panthers in Ahmedabad
August 18 vs Tamil Thalaivas in Chennai
August 21 vs Bengaluru Bulls in Chennai
August 26 vs UP Yoddha in Delhi
August 30 vs Telugu Titans in Delhi
September 2 vs Haryana Steelers in Bengaluru
September 5 vs U Mumba in Bengaluru
September 8 vs Bengal Warriors in Kolkata
September 14 vs Gujarat Fortunegiants in Pune
September 15 vs Patna Pirates in Pune
September 18 vs Tamil Thalaivas in Pune
September 20 vs Bengaluru Bulls in Pune
September 25 vs Jaipur Pink Panthers in Jaipur
September 29 vs Dabang Delhi in Panchkula
October 3 vs Telugu Titans in Panchkula
October 6 vs UP Yoddha in Greater Noida
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