In hindsight, this season might seem predictable. There have been many matches in which that seemed absolutely beaten went on to draw or even win with surges in the final seconds in some cases. U Mumba, a team that have been the most consistent since the inaugural editions, got off to start so sluggish that even a late season surge could not get them to the playoff spots. Telugu Titans are another side that started as favourites and had one their most wretched seasons ever.
Throughout the primordial churn that was the group stage, two names remained on top. Gujarat Fortunegiants, making their debut this season in the league, played to their strengths from the word go. That strength were the two Iranian corners Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani. Together, the duo anchored a nearly insurmountable defensive wall for any team. The total tackle points that they collected throughout the season is second only to Puneri Paltan. In fact, Pune can be rated as the only team whose defence could be compared to that of Gujarat.
And the reason why the Puneri Paltan are not in the final is because they faced Patna Pirates in the third eliminator. Patna have been a good side but they would have probably met the same fate as U Mumba or Haryana Steelers had it not been for their captain Pardeep Narwal. He scored 19 points against Puneri Paltan, decimating one of the staunchest defences on the league single-handedly. Before that he scored 32 points on his own against Haryana Steelers, who themselves managed just 30 as a team in the match. That has been the story for the most of the season, Patna would defend with whatever they have and Narwal would run through the opposition like warm knife through butter.
It might of little consolation that Patna are yet to win against Gujarat in the two matches they have played so far. The latter are the defending champions while Gujarat are the new kids on the block, stonewalling all their opponents to reach the final. As has been the case in most matches this season, predicting the winner is a futile exercise.