The league stage of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League has come to a close and we have our semi-finalists ready. After a month of non-stop action and breathtaking performances, U Mumba, Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls and Patna Pirates have made it to the final four. In this article, we have a short analysis of the four semi-finalists of the Pro Kabaddi League and also the semi-final lineup:
Pro Kabaddi League 2015: The semi-finals
SEMI-FINAL 1: Telugu Titans vs Bengaluru Bulls
SEMI-FINAL 2: U Mumba vs Patna Pirates
Both the matches will be played on Friday, August 21 at the NSCI indoor stadium in Mumbai.
1. U Mumba:
U Mumba have been in thunderous form right from the opening day of the Pro Kabaddi League season 2. The Anup Kumar-led side are on a mission and have dominated the league stage completely. With 60 points from 14 matches, U Mumba are placed first on the league table and will face fourth-placed Patna Pirates in the semifinals.
Performance in league stage: Played 14, Won 12, Lost 2, Tied/NR 0
U Mumba have fared well in almost all departments but raiding has been their biggest strength. The likes of skipper Anup Kumar himself, Rishank Devadiga, Shabeer Bapu and newcomer Bhupender Singh have impressed throughout the league stage. The raiders have always managed to keep the opposition on their toes and have enjoyed good success in terms of touch points.
Though U Mumba have been on a rampage this season, they have always missed the services of a genuine all-rounder. In situations when a team is down to three active players or less, it has been tough for Mumbai to contain the opposition with raid and tackle points. Coach Ravi Shetty has no option but to make quick substitutions in such events. Bhupender Singh comes as an all-rounder but the 23 year-old has not been able to show his worth as a defender.
U Mumba boasts of one of the best set of defenders in the Pro Kabaddi League. Surender Nada, Vishal Prabhakar Mane, Mohit Chhillar and Pradeep Kumar have been effective in patches and a much better show would be expected as the tournament is into its business end.
2. Telugu Titans:
Telugu Titans are placed second in the Pro Kabaddi League table and have been one of the best powerhouses of young talent. The Hyderabad outfit racked up 50 points in 14 games and will face fellow south-Indian franchise, Bengaluru Bulls in the semis.
Performance in league stage: Played 14, Won 8, Lost 3, Tied/NR 3
Led by Iranian Meraj Sheykh, the Telugu Titans underwent a tactical makeover and have come out on top as a polished side. Rahul Chaudhari and Sukesh Hegde will be expected to do the bulk of raiding upfront and they will be backed by Meraj himself. As an all-rounder, he has been pretty decent for his side having picked up 28 raid points and 9 successful tackles.
The only area of concern for the Titans will be their defense. Barring the young Sandeep Kandola (49 successful tackles), none of the defenders have managed to step up to the challenge. Deepak Nivas Hudda (27 successful tackles) has contributed significantly but has failed to lend support at crucial times.
3. Bengaluru Bulls
With 48 points from 14 games, the Bengaluru Bulls finished narrowly behind Telugu Titans in the third position. The Bulls have recovered from a minor debacle, having won three games in a row after three such losses. They are pitted against Telugu Titans in the semi-finals and enjoy a better head-to-head record against them.
Performance in league stage: Played 14, Won 9, Lost 5, Tied/NR 0
Manjeet Chillar, like last year, continues to remain Bengaluru’s pillar of strength at the Pro Kabaddi League. The all-rounder has 51 raid points and 35 successful tackles to his name and has been an inspiring leader. He has received enough support from fellow teammates Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Joginder Narwal.
Raiding has been a weak-link for the Bulls and the likes of Ajay Thakur, Rakesh Narwal and Ashish Chhokar would look to come good in a must-win game.
4. Patna Pirates
After a slow start to their campaign, Patna Pirates have sprung into form and will prove to be worthy challengers for any opposition. They overthrew defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers to barge into the Pro Kabaddi League semi-finals and have been instrumental in doing so. They face U Mumba in the semifinals.
Performance in league stage: Played 14, Won 7, Lost 6, Tied/NR 1
Sandeep Narwal took over the reins from out-of-form Rakesh Kumar halfway through the league and the change has worked wonders for the Patna Pirates. The raiding department looks charged up with Sandeep himself, Deepak Narwal and Ravi Dalal. The defending has to be stronger in order to tackle the in-form U Mumba raiders and the onus would be on D Suresh Kumar and Girish Ernak.
Patna Pirates have a potential game-changer in Tae Deok Eom. The Korean all-rounder brings the crowd on his feet when he enters to raid and has enjoyed a good success rate. His tackling has also been ruthless and the Pirates would hope for a special effort from the Korean.