Eliminator 1 Team Preview:
U Mumba can very well be considered as one of the most consistent sides in Pro Kabaddi League after Patna Pirates. 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. They have been dominating in all aspects of the game and top both the raiding as well as tackling stats. Their all-around performance this season is what makes them most ferocious team in the league at the moment.
Statistically speaking, they are the league’s top points scorers, having collected 827 points from 22 matches, 28 points more than the next team, Patna Pirates. On the defensive front, U Mumba is the best team as well. They have conceded only 638 points this season, the least among the 12 competing teams.
However talented their attack may be, it is their defence that could be considered as Mumbai’s biggest strength. Mumba has collected 278 tackle points from 22 matches in this season. That is a marked improvement from the 202 points they managed to gain last season from 22 matches. “But how exactly did their leaky defence change overnight then?” one may wonder.
Well, we will have to go back to the 2018 PKL auctions, when U Mumba spent a stunning ₹1 crore on an Iranian player by the name Fazel Atrachali. Although the record signing raised a few eyebrows at that time, looking back now, the deal feels absolutely worth it. Fazel has arguably been the best player in a U Mumba shirt this season, with the 26-year-old collecting 79 tackle points. The one ‘weakness’ for U Mumba has been a complacent performance in certain matches after a run of big victories.
UP Yoddha, on the other hand, had a mixed season this season. They started their campaign poorly, losing 3 of their first four matches. After a couple of wins, they went on another losing streak that included a 46-24 drubbing at the hands of Tamil Thalaivas. However, as December dawned, UP Yoddhas shifted their gears and went on an unexpected run of wins.
In fact, they won 6 matches in a row. More importantly, two of those victories came against U Mumba (32-34) and Bengal Warriors (25-41). The win against the secondly placed Warriors also confirmed their progress to the Eliminators.
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Their biggest strength has to be their potent tackling. They have scalped as many as 227 points from 22 matches, the fourth highest in the league. It is the effective camaraderie between defenders Shrikant Jadhav and Prasanth Kumar Rai that has helped them win crucial matches.
They have contributed 130 (in 22 matches) and 125 points (in 18 matches) from defence respectively that has made them a tackling powerhouse. UP Yoddha also ranks third for the most number of successful tackles (206).
However, the cause of concern for the North Indian outfit would be their underperformance in the attacking department. To put it in numbers, they are placed at a lowly 10th rank for raid points collected (394), average raids (17.91), and Super Raids (8). Their dismal performance in attack is exactly the reason why they have failed to catch up with high scoring teams in crucial matches.
Players to Watch Out
U Mumba – Siddharth Desai
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.
UP Yoddha – Nitesh Kumar
Nitesh Kumar is easily UP’s best player, with 81 tackle points collected from 22 matches, the most by any player in the league so far. It will make for a great duel between U Mumba’s Siddharth Desai and UP’s Nitesh Kumar.
U Mumba and UP Yoddha have met on two occasions previously this season. The first encounter was a one-sided affair with U Mumba drubbing UP by 41-24. However, Yoddhas came with a reply of their own, winning 32-34 in what was a thrilling contest.
U Mumba: W W W L D
UP Yoddha: W D W W W
When to Watch?
The first eliminator between U Mumba and UP Yoddha will take place at 8 pm, 30th December.
Where Will it Take Place?
Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Kochi
Where Can I Buy the Playoffs Tickets?
You can buy the PKL Playoffs on PKL’s official website. The ticket price starts at ₹ 250.
Where can I watch on TV?
You can catch the live action on the Star Sports network.
Where can I live stream the event?
You can stream the event live on Hotstar.
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