The Delhi leg of the seventh edition of the PKL has just got over with the home team dominating all their games at the Thyagraj Sports Complex. Before we move to Bengaluru for the defending champions’ home leg, here is the list of studs and duds from the national capital by SportsCafe.
Dabang Delhi KC
Dabang Delhi KC became the first team in the ongoing season to win all their games at home. The Joginder Narwal-led side managed to break the home jinx and achieved something which no other team thought of this year. Almost all teams struggled at their home and against Delhi, Mumba had a record of two wins and two losses at home. However, Delhi, who started with an exciting win against the defending champions last Saturday, went on to beat teams like U Mumba and Patna Pirates and also thrashed neighbours UP Yoddha. They are at the top of the points table and the kind of transformation that the team have shown since 2018 is incredible. They now have nine wins from 10 games at home in both sixth and seventh seasons combined. Topping the table with 49 points from 11 games is just the icing on the cake.
In Saurabh Nandal and Mahender Singh, Bengaluru Bulls have two players who are contributing well in the defence and that is what has made the team stronger ahead of their home leg. After collecting only two points against Delhi in a losing cause, Nandal shone at the right corner of the mat with some strong ankle holds to win the game for the defending champs against Jaipur Pink Panthers. The defender ended up with a total of five points. These points against the in-form raiding unit with Deepak Niwas Hooda in a good form was very crucial for the Bulls. He has given new hope to the team management and the coach has also expressed his satisfaction as the Bulls’ defence has started to contribute and they already have a good raiding unit with two stars in Rohit Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat.
Was the Delhi leg a leg for the right corners? Ravinder Pahal, who is one of the finest right corners in the league history was going through a lean patch till the start of the Delhi leg. However, at home, he looked completely different. Starting from the game against the Bulls, where he showed the skill to stop “High-flyer” Pawan with the blocks, Pahal was sensational in front of his supporters. He also helped his skipper Joginder Narwal and cover defender Vishal Mane in effecting important tackles and his form was important along with Naveen Kumar’s raids in ensuring an unbeaten finish for Delhi at home. He ended up with 21 points from four games while his best performance came against U Mumba in the third game where he collected eight points from eight attempts without a single unsuccessful tackle in that match.
While the right corners had a gala time in Delhi, the cover defenders were lacklustre in the leg. Gujarat Fortunegiants skipper Sunil Kumar is first on our list as he continued to disappoint this year. After some poor games, he had a good season at home in Ahmedabad but coming to the national capital, the Gujarat skipper struggled in the only match that they played against Haryana Steelers. Gujarat lost that game quite badly by a margin of 41-25 points and their skipper managed to collect only one point. The cover combination with his cousin Parvesh Bhainswal was once considered the best in the league last year but this time, the story is completely different. Their poor form is one of the primary reasons why the Fortunegiants have failed to impress in the seventh season. If Manpreet Singh and his boys want to make a comeback on the league table with the Bengaluru game, then Sunil has to lead from the front at the cover position.
U Mumba covers
U Mumba’s defence line-up is considered as one of the strongest in the league with the likes of Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal taking the two corner positions and being able to do well with that as well. However, their covers were also good with Surinder Singh already having the experiencing behind him and looking mature in the seventh season. But, in the only game that U Mumba played against Delhi, the cover defenders – Surinder and Harendra Kumar disappointed the teams and their fans. Harendra had only one to his name while right cover Surinder failed to open his account. In the same game, the corners Sandeep and Atrachali had five and four tackles respectively. The most bizarre fact is that Harendra had as many as five unsuccessful tackle attempts which shifted the game completely in Delhi’s favour towards the end of the first half and the home team won the game 40-24.
Rahul Chaudhari – the Poster Boy of Kabaddi and the Raid Machine – looked good in the first few games in his new team Tamil Thalaivas. However, after the end of the home leg, when the Thalaivas returned on to the mat in Delhi against Bengal Warriors, he had a terrible evening that led to their loss on the National Sports Day. A day on which their skipper Ajay Thakur was awarded with the prestigious Arjuna Award, Chaudhari collected only one and couldn’t support his skipper in the raiding department. He went for only five raids as most of the time, he was sent off the mat and even in the defence, he had to go out while attempting a catch. It is now crucial for the raider to get his form back ahead of the Bengaluru leg where the Thalaivas will be meeting the home team in the Kaveri Derby on Sunday.