The PKL is entering its final phase with just 2 league matches left to be played before the advent of Knockouts. This season has been one of the most entertaining ones ever, with the competition level touching new levels by the day.
As the teams warm up for the playoffs, we find out the top three teams that have been outright dominant in the current season of the Pro Kabaddi League. It goes without saying that these three teams are the firm favourites to lay claim over the PKL trophy this time.
#3. Bengaluru Bulls
Zone: B | Position:1 | Points: 73*
Bengaluru Bulls have been a force to reckon this season. When they started the season, they had one of the most feared attacks in the league. In fact, Bulls have been one of the few PKL teams to consistently score above 30 points over the course of the season. Going by the stats, they are PKL’s second-best raiding team with a total of 474 points scored over 21 matches, a number that could swell even further after their last league match against Pink Panthers. They also boast of the league-best raid average of 22.57 points per match.
The one player that has been highly effective for the Bengaluru Bulls is Pawan Kumar Sehrawat. The New Delhi-based raider, who was bought this season by Bengaluru for a hefty price of Rs. 53 lakhs, has amassed as many as 231 points over 21 matches. That number makes him the second best raider in the league behind Pardeep Narwhal, who has 233 points. The feisty raider, who is known for his tactical ‘frog jump’, has single-handedly spearheaded his side’s progress to the top of the Zone B.
However, the one thing that has let Bengaluru Bulls down this season is their leaky defence. They have conceded 30+ scores on as many as 13 occasions from 21 matches. Bulls don’t have a single representative in the table for top 10 successful tackles and rank a lowly 9th when it comes to total points from tackles. Although they are a formidable attack, Bengaluru Bulls will have to shore up their defences if they are to win their first ever PKL title.
* They still have a league match in hand.
#2. U Mumba
Zone: A | Position: 2 | Points: 86
U Mumba can easily be considered as one of the most consistent sides in Pro Kabaddi League. They won the title in 2015 and have been the runner-ups on two occasions. Mumba has been considerably impressive this season as well, finishing the group stage at 2nd position. Their biggest strength this season has been their all-around performance, both in raiding as well as in tackling.
They are the league’s top points scorers, collecting 827 points from 22 matches, 28 points more than the next team, Patna Pirates. Defensively, U Mumba is the best team as well. They have conceded only 638 points this season, the least among the 12 competing teams.
In attack, Kolhapur’s Siddharth Shirish Desai has been the go-to man for U Mumba. The 27-year-old has scored as many as 214 points from just 20 matches which makes him the third most valuable raider in the league.
However talented their attack may be, it is their defence that could be considered as Mumbai’s crown jewel. Mumba has collected 278 tackle points from 22 matches this season. That is a marked improvement from the 202 points they managed last season from as many matches. How did their leaky defence change overnight then?, one may wonder.
Well, the answer lies in the 2018 PKL auctions, where U Mumba spent an astonishing ₹1 crore on an Iranian player – Fazel Atrachali. The record signing did raise a few eyebrows at that time, but looking back now, the deal feels worth it. Fazel has been their best defender since the start of the season, with the 26-year-old scoring 79 tackle points. Atrachali is especially known for his ‘Dash’ style of defence, where he sprints across the mat and uses the full force of his momentum to get the opposition raider out of bounds in what is an ultimate display of strength.
The one blemish on them has been their relative complacency in certain matches. For example, after winning first three matches with big margins, they fell to a defeat against Puneri Paltan. The same happened five matches later when they lost 36-38 to Gujrat Fortune Giants.
#1. Gujarat Fortune Giants
Zone: A | Position: 1 | Points: 93
As their name goes, GFG has really been Giants this season, dominating the sides outright. Agreed they are not a defensive powerhouse like U Mumba or have the best attack in the league like Bengaluru Bulls. However, Gujarat has managed to do one thing that matters the most- win matches.
And they have pretty shrewd when it comes to winning matches. The Ahmedabad-based team has won the league high of 17 matches from 22 matches and lost on just 3 occasions. If one word that defines their season has to be CONSISTENCY.
Giants have consistently managed to win matches over the course of the season, and their defence has been more of a strength than the attack. Although they feature third on the list of total points scored (776 from 22 matches), the attack makes only 54 % of this tally. (Bengaluru Bulls have this figure at 62%). However, that doesn’t mean that their attack is not good enough. In fact, they have fine-tuned their side in such a way that Gujarat always manages to more points than their opponents. They intelligently play to their defence.
Giants have 250 points from tackle points, at an average of 11.36 points per match. They also have inflicted a total of 32 All-outs on their opponents, the second highest in the league. On the other hand, they have conceded the least All-Outs (15) in the league.
Defender Parvesh Bhainswal is easily their best player, having scalped as many as 81 tackle points. With a league-high of 77 successful tackles, the 21-year-old defender could be attributed as the finds of the 2018 PKL season. Parvesh is known for his signature ‘Block’ move when he uses tremendous strength and pace to directly counter an escaping raider akin to a wall. If Gujarat Fortune Giants are to win the title this time, they will want this man to be at the best of his form.
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