Pro Kabaddi League 2018 Final: Gujarat Fortunegiants, Bengaluru Bulls eye maiden gloryhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/pro-kabaddi-league/pro-kabaddi-final-preview-gujarat-fortunegiants-vs-bengaluru-bulls-5523747/

Pro Kabaddi League 2018 Final: Gujarat Fortunegiants, Bengaluru Bulls eye maiden glory

Table toppers from Zone A and Zone B have made their way into the final of the Pro Kabaddi League with an eye on a maiden title.

Gujarat Fortunegiants take on Bengaluru Bulls in the PKL 6 final
Gujarat Fortunegiants are in their second straight PKL final.

After three straight seasons of Patna Pirates bagging the Pro Kabaddi League title, there will be a new winner and one for the very first time. Gujarat Fortunegiants who had made the final last season will go head-to-head with runners up of the second season Bengaluru Bulls for maiden PKL glory in Mumbai. Zone B table toppers Bengaluru Bulls booked their place in the final when they beat Gujarat 41-29 in the first qualifier. Gujarat fought back in the second qualifier to beat UP Yoddha to set up the title clash.

Road to Final: Gujarat Fortunegiants

It is a match up of one of the best defensive units against one of the best attacking units that this season has seen. Gujarat come into the final with second most average tackle points per match (behind U Mumba) thanks to cover combination of Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar. Both feature in the top-5 defenders of the season. They accounted for 75 points between them at an average of 6.8 tackle points with a remarkable strike rate of 63%.

Led by Pawan Sehrawat as the top raider in the league with 249 raid points, Bengaluru have the most average raid points this season at 22.6 per game. His dominance can be ascertained by the fact that he has more raid points than anyone else and has a raid strike rate of 71%, which is highest by any raider with more than 30 raids this season. Pawan’s excellence in the late stages has been a key factor for his side. He has 86 raid points at this juncture with a success rate of 83%. Even against Gujarat in the qualifier, he had 8 of his 13 points in this phase including a super raid. He did not have a single empty raid or unsuccessful raid in this period.

Pre-final talk

Gujarat Fortunegiants take on Bengaluru Bulls in the PKL 6 final
Gujarat Fortunegiants take on Bengaluru Bulls in the PKL 6 final.

Manpreet Singh, coach of Gujarat FortuneGiants and winner with Patna Pirates: “This is the finale of VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season VI and it doesn’t get bigger than this. Last year, we were very close to winning the trophy, and this year we are better prepared. We are excited and so are the boys to take the trophy home. In the second qualifier, both Sunil and Sachin were in great form and this team of young talent are really focussed on winning the trophy.”

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Gujarat FortuneGiants captain Sunil Kumar: “Season VI has been very special for me, for the first time I have captained a team and led them to the finals. We have displayed immense teamwork throughout the season and we are looking forward to lift the trophy. In the previous match against Bengaluru Bulls we made a few mistakes and those will not be repeated, we are tightening our defence which will be a good support and encouragement for our raiders to score points. We will be playing Bengaluru Bulls for the third time, both Rohit Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat are great players and we are really looking forward to the match tomorrow.”

Road to Final: Bengaluru Bulls

Randhir Singh, Coach, Bengaluru Bulls: “When we initially began the season, not many were confident that this team would reach the finals, today I am proud of the players who have made it this far. Now that we are here, we will definitely go for the win. The team and support staff have worked extra hard over the past few days to ensure that victory is ours.”

Rohit Kumar, Captain, Bengaluru Bulls: “It has taken Bengaluru Bulls to get back to our best and we will not let this opportunity go. We have reached the finals and the aim is to take the trophy home. We are focusing on strengthening our raiding and tightening our defence because while Gujarat is a young team one cannot underestimate their gameplay. They have played well through the season and we will surely give them a tough fight in the finals, we are looking forward to meet them on the mat tomorrow.”

Head-to-head

The two teams are even when it comes to matches in the past. They’ve played three matches against each other with Gujarat winning one, Bengaluru the other and one finishing in a tie. The final at the NSCI in Mumbai will break this lock and the victor will take home the trophy. The tie came in the Inter Zone part of the season. That match finished 30-30 in what was Gujarat’s worst defensive display in the season. At the other end, Bengaluru had just 17 raid points for their second worst attacking performance in PKL 6.

PKL 6: Prize Money on offer

PKL 5: Gujarat Fortunegiants beat Bengaluru Bulls 27-24

PKL 6 (Inter Zone): Gujarat Fortunegiants and Bengaluru Bulls play 30-30 draw

PKL 6 (Qualifier 1): Bengaluru Bulls beat Gujarat Fortunegiants 41-29