With some breathtaking matches done and dusted, upcoming days in the fifth edition of Pro Kabaddi are expected to witness some intense fixtures as the teams eye upward movement in the points table. Starting from August 15, the first of the three inter-zone weeks will begin in Ahmedabad and then move to Lucknow where each of the six teams from both zones will go face each other. In the first week, there will be 12 matches played across Ahmedabad and Lucknow, starting with Puneri Paltan vs Bengal Warriors, followed by Gujarat Fortunegiants vs Bengaluru Bulls at ‘The Arena’ by TransStadia in Ahmedabad.
Puneri Paltan eye consistency: Puneri Paltan’s season started on a strong note with wins over U Mumba and Dabang Delhi but the Deepak Hooda-led unit suffered a narrow defeat to Jaipur Pink Panthers. Placed second in Zone A, they will look to get their consistency back when they face Bengal Warriors. Pune’s defence will be tested against Warriors’ strong attack. While Deepak and Rajesh Mondal have struggled to get points, all-rounder Sandeep Narwal has stepped up to the occasion and has been in fine form. However, the challenge ahead is not easy as they face the likes of Jang Kun Lee, Maninder Singh and Surjeet Singh. The experience of Dharmaraj Cheralathan will be an advantage for the Pune side as the 42-year old has scored seven tackle points in three matches so far. For Bengal, Maninder’s struggle to score points in their previous match will be something they will be worried about.
Gujarat look to extend unbeaten run: They are one of the four new teams but the performances in their three wins have not suggested the same. Currently placed at top of the Zone A table, Gujarat have been dominant right from the word go in the tournament. With the format moving to inter-zone, they will now be tested by Zone B leaders Bengaluru Bulls. It’s expected to be a keenly-contested contest between two quality sides and spotlight will be on the battle between Rohit Talwar, Rohit Gulia, and how the two deal with Bulls’ defence. Gujarat have had comfortable wins in their first three matches but this could be their real test.
The end of the first inter-zone week will see two times defending champions Patna Pirates face the challenge of Puneri Paltan and debutants UP Yoddha will play Jaipur Pink Panthers. As of now, Sukesh Hegde-led Gujarat dominate Zone A with 23 points. While in Zone B, Bengaluru Bulls lead the group with 20 points from seven matches.