Interestingly, this will be the first time both Delhi and Bengal will play in the final which is a testimony to how tough and closely fought the current season of VIVO PKL has been. Pre-season favourites Tamil Thalaivas and three-time champions Patna Pirates struggled to impress while teams like UP Yoddha, with no real superstars in their ranks, dominated the league stages by utilising young players identified through the Future Kabaddi Heroes (FKH) programme.
While the likes of Delhi’s Naveen Kumar and Bengal’s Maninder Singh have walked away with the plaudits, the teams’ success on the mat have come largely due to their cohesion. Delhi’s semi-final match against Bengaluru Bulls was an example of how backup raiders Chandran Ranjit and Vijay are vital cogs in the Dabang unit, contributing in both tackles and raids.
Similarly in defence, while Ravinder Pahal and Joginder Narwal grabbed the limelight, Vishal Mane has gone about doing his work quietly as a cover defender. The seasoned defender now has the opportunity to become the first player in Pro Kabaddi history to win the title with three different teams (having already won with U Mumba and Patna Pirates).
Bengal Warriors also have a fair share of unsung heroes. Sukesh Hegde, who will be playing his 100th PKL match, has thrown down the gauntlet to his doubters who called him a ‘spent force’ with vital raid points whenever his team needed them. K Prapanjan has also had a breakout season for the Warriors as a raider. Both players will be keen to avoid a defeat having suffered a heartbreak while playing for Gujarat FortuneGiants in earlier seasons.
Stopping the unstoppable
Both Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors have a wealth of talent as far as raiders go which would mean that the match will come down to which set of defenders play better. In Rinku Narwal and Baldev Singh, the Warriors have a strong corner duo, who have impressed with tackle points this season. Both are relatively inexperienced compared to Delhi’s defensive stalwarts Joginder Narwal, Ravinder Pahal and Vishal Mane.
However, the inexperienced duo will be looking to show that they are no easy pushovers by trying to make a statement against an in-form Naveen Kumar who will be targeting his 21st consecutive Super 10. Both the teams are also at the top two in terms of most all-outs inflicted and least all-outs conceded this season (net All-Out of +16 for both teams).
Maninder Singh’s availability still remains undecided but Bengal Warriors showed that against a talented U Mumba side in the semi-finals that they can produce the goods even without their star raider. In fact, when the teams first met this season, it was Prapanjan who scored a Super 10 after Maninder was substituted for a poor first-half showing.
Both coaches will have the problem of plenty with the variety of Kabaddi players available to pick from, fans and viewers can expect a cracker of a grand finale on Saturday. One thing is for sure – VIVO Pro Kabaddi will have a new champion at the end of the match.
Thoughts from players and coaches of both finalists:
Sukesh Hegde, the standout performer of the Pro Kabaddi Season 7 semifinals playing for Bengal Warriors said, “I am very happy that we have made it to the finals; the team was in the semi-finals thrice in the past – we are getting closer to the trophy.”
Naveen Kumar Express, the breakout raider of Pro Kabaddi Season 7 from Dabang Delhi K.C said, “Reaching the finals is a very proud moment. We have worked so hard for this very moment. Our coach has prepared us for it. My goal for the team is to win their maiden Pro Kabaddi Season 7 and take the trophy home.”
Vishal Mane, the defender from Dabang Delhi K.C who has played the most number of Pro Kabaddi finals said, “We have a balanced team with Joginder and Ravinder in defence along with Naveen’s express raiding skills supported by Chandran Ranjith as well. We are fully prepared to face the toughest match of the season and our eyes are on the trophy.”
Maninder Singh, Star Raider who has consistently been performing for Bengal Warriors said, “For any team reaching the Finals of Pro Kabaddi itself is a big deal! Having said that, we are not taking the pressure of the finals and that’s what we believe will bring the best game for us on the mat. The team has been practising and focusing on their fitness and we are confident of lifting the trophy this time.”
BC Ramesh, who has tasted success in vivo Pro Kabaddi season 6 as Asst. Coach of Bengaluru Bulls; is now in the finals as head coach of Bengal Warriors said, “This will be a very exciting final as both the teams will be competing in the finals for the first time. The experience of lifting the trophy is something undefinable and we are confident it will be a match to watch.”
In a bid to make Dabang Delhi K.C. the winners of Pro Kabaddi for the first time, experienced coach Krishan Kumar Hooda, Coach, said, “Pro Kabaddi over the years has given the sport a lot of young new players. With the talent they have showcased, they are a promising set of players who are the future of Indian kabaddi. Both teams are very disciplined, and the finals will be a great game to witness and enjoy all our fans. As a coach, I promise, that the team will not disappoint our fans.”
Source: PKL Media
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