Defending champions Bengaluru Bulls are on the top of their game as ‘High-flyer’ Pawan Sehrawat is in full flow. The Bulls will play their eliminator match against UP Yoddha, the team against whom they lost on the final day of the league stage, on Monday with an aim of making it to the semis.
Why will they win
There is no doubt whatsoever regarding what is the biggest positive for the Bulls and why they have a chance to defend their title this season. It was Pawan Sehrawat, who was a revelation last season and he single-handedly took the Bulls to the title victory in the sixth season of the Pro Kabaddi League.
If they want to win three consecutive matches from here on and win the title again then the go-to man for Randhir Singh Sehrawat is going to be none other than the juggernaut. Pawan has 308 raid points with 16 super 10s to his name and if he continues his marauding run in the playoffs, then it will be next to impossible for the opponents to catch hold of him.
He has amazing record in pressure matches as well. In the two games that he played under pressure against Gujarat Fortunegiants towards the end of the last season, he scored 13 (qualifier 1) and 22 (final) raid points which eventually helped the team from the Garden City claim the title for the first time ever in January this year.
The positive change for them from the last season is Mahender Singh’s form. While many teams have struggled in cover defending, Bengaluru must be happy with the way their left cover has played so far this season. He is strong and muscular which makes him a good player to dash or block the opposition raiders whenever they are in front of him.
He has scored 55 points from 19 games with a strike rate of close to 50 which is rare to find from a cover defender. Randhir Singh understands his importance and that is why he had allowed him a break towards the fag end of the league stage.
Why they might not
With no proper clarity regarding Rohit Kumar’s availability ahead of the playoffs, there is a major concern about who will play as the second raider after Pawan. Banty and Sumit Singh both have not been able to deliver in the last few matches where Rohit was missing and if their regular skipper doesn’t play in the playoffs, it will be extremely tough for them to get raiding points once Pawan is sent off the mat. As per Pawan’s reply in the press conference last evening, if Rohit is fully fit and he plays, then also, there is a lot that is expected from Pawan. Over-reliance on their star raider might just go against the pressure games as one mistake or one-off day can see the side crash out from the competition.
On the other hand, the performance of the two corners Saurabh Nandal and Amit Sheoran has been very inconsistent throughout the season. Although Nandal started off with an impressive show at the right corner in the first half of the tournament, he hasn’t been that good towards the later stages of the tournament. His lack of experience in pressure games might be another cause of concern for Randhir Singh and the Bulls think tank. Sheoran, apart from his few exceptional performances, has been lackluster at the left corner which increases the pressure on Mahender in the defence and Pawan in the raiding department. If the Bulls would want to make a case for themselves in the final and want to defend the title, then it needs to be a Pawan show with some support from his teammates as well in the three matches that they have to win to clinch the title for the second time in a row.