PKL | Assessing each team's chances in the playoffs

PKL | Assessing each team's chances in the playoffs

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The PKL playoffs get underway on Tuesday in Mumbai, and each of the six teams that have qualified for the action-packed part of the season has some intriguing matches. Despite entering the playoffs, Puneri Paltan and UP Yoddhas are two clubs who have never taken first place in the league.

Meanwhile, Tamil Thalaivas have made it to the last six for the very first time, whereas Patna have won the title thrice. Jaipur and Delhi have also won the title on one occasion in the past.

Playoffs format

Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan advanced to the semifinal after finishing in the top two, where they will meet the winners of the eliminators.

Bengaluru Bulls will compete against Dabang Delhi in the eliminators for the right to play Jaipur in the semifinal, while Puneri Paltan will be waiting for the victors of the match between Tamil Thalaivas and UP Yoddhas.

Where and when

On Tuesday, December 13, both elimination rounds will be held. The semifinals will follow on Thursday, December 15. The championship match is on December 17 Saturday.

Chances

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Matches: 22 | Points: 82 | Score Difference: 174 | Position: 1

Prediction: Will make the final

With 82 points from 22 games and a staggering 174 differential in scores, Jaipur has been the best team in the league stages. In their last match though, they played out a tie against Gujarat. This shows they are a side that can be beaten.

But talking about the positives, they have been lucky to have the best raider and defender of the season in their ranks -- Arjun Deshwal and Ankush. They would be the favourites to win the title.

Puneri Paltan

Matches: 22 | Points: 80 | Score Difference: 66 | Position: 2

Prediction: Will make the final

Puneri Paltan are a reliable team that has been reliable throughout the entire season, even though they haven't always been great. They rank sixth for raid points and seventh for tackle points, respectively, but they are a team that knows how to win games as proven by their 14 victories throughout the league phase.

Fazel Atrachali, their captain, is a seasoned competitor who has already won the title with both U Mumba and Patna Pirates. Their biggest advantage going into the playoffs is that. Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat, their youthful raiding team, have also had successful seasons.

This youthful squad could feel pressure in crucial situations, but they have a captain in Atrachali who is capable of leading the group to perfection.

Bengaluru Bulls

Matches: 22 | Points: 74 | Score Difference: 39 | Position: 3

Prediction: Loss to Jaipur Pink Panthers in the semifinal

Bengaluru Bulls outperformed certain expectations in the inaugural season of the post-Pawan Sehrawat era by placing third in the league phase.

Their high-priced auction acquisition, Vikas Khandola, has struggled, but the Bulls have discovered a new raiding star in Bharat, whose 257 raid points thus far are only surpassed by Deshwal. Their left corner Saurabh Nandal has also been exceptional, ranking behind Mohammedreza Shadloui and Ankush in PKL 9 for tackle points.

A victory in the elimination round would face the Bulls against the unstoppable Jaipur juggernaut, though.

UP Yoddhas

Matches: 22 | Points: 71 | Score Difference: 42 | Position: 4

Prediction: Loss to Puneri Paltan in the semifinal             

The resurgence of Pardeep Narwal has been the major development for UP Yoddhas this season. After a lacklustre couple of seasons, the all-time leading raider in the PKL has once again lit the stage on fire with 208 raid points.

In terms of raiding, Rohit Tomar and Surender Gill have both been ideal foils for Pardeep, but their defence has been an issue.

Even if their raiding unit defeats Tamil Thalaivas in the elimination round, the Yoddhas may find it difficult to defeat Aslam and Mohit in the semifinals. Instead, they will have to rely on their raiders to have an outstanding day against an Atrachali-led defence.

Tamil Thalaivas

Matches: 22 | Points: 66 | Score Difference: 5 | Position: 5

Prediction: Loss to UP Yoddhas in the eliminator

PKL9 is a season that Tamil Thalaivas will never forget, regardless of what they do moving forward. They witnessed the worst conceivable beginning as Pawan Sehrawat suffered a knee injury that would ruin his season. Due to poor performance, the franchise fired J Udayakumar and replaced him with Ashan Kumar, who has performed wonders.

Results quickly improved, and they were in the running for a playoff berth, but they then suffered another setback when defender Sagar Rathee again had a knee injury, ending his season.

However, they have discovered stars, none more so than Narendar Hoshiyar, who was given the very unpleasant role of standing in for Sehrawat. With that eight-point raid against the Telugu Titans and a subsequent seven-point raid against the same opposition, Ajinkya Pawar worked some magic.

However, even the tough Thalaivas would not be able to handle an elimination match against the Pardeep Narwal of 2022 without the strength of Sagar in their corner.

Dabang Delhi

Matches: 22 | Points: 63 | Score Difference: 17 | Position: 6

Prediction: Loss to Bengaluru Bulls in the eliminator

The reigning champions started their season well, went astray, and then rallied to become the final club to make the playoffs.

For Dabang Delhi, Naveen Kumar has maintained his position of influence while receiving assistance from Ashu Malik and Manjeet in the raiding division.

Whether the Delhi defence can contain Bharat will probably determine who advances to the semifinal match versus the Bulls. Only Telugu Titans and Gujarat Giants had a poorer successful tackle % than Delhi, despite having the second-highest number of tackle points in PKL 9. Errors may be costly against a raider like Bharat, and that may be Delhi's weak point.

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