The classic David vs Goliath contest often pits an underdog or a newcomer against a giant, whose probability to win is as high as his size in comparison to the former. Gujarat Fortune Giants, in every aspect of their next contest, are a band of Davids ready to take on the Pro Kabaddi Colossus of Jaipur Pink Panthers. However, quite ironically, it is Jaipur Pink Panthers, despite all their credentials and history, will step out on the mat in Greater Noida’s Shaeed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex to show that they are up for it this season.
Jaipur Pink Panthers currently sit at the bottom of the Zone A table with just one win in the five matches it has played so far. The Anup Kumar led side has found going tough and their defence has been particularly poor, which reflects in their points difference of minus 30. To put things into perspective, the Panthers have conceded as many as six all outs in five games and have among the worst defensive records in the league this season. Star corners Mohit Chillar and the highly rated Sandeep Chillar have not been quite effective with opponents getting away easily. Chillar, rated as one of the best in the league, has lifted the team’s defensive burden on his shoulders and it has reflected in the games so far. Bajirao Hodage, along with all-rounder Deepak Hooda, need to step up with the defensive work if Panthers are to contain the Fortune Giants tonight.
The Panthers’ defensive doldrums have masked their poorly performing forward line, which has scored the lowest number of points in the league so far (150 in 5 matches). A forward line featuring Bonus Ka Raja Anup Kumar and the dynamic Deepak Niwas Hooda is certainly expected to do much more than the 70 successful raids they have produced thus far in the season. Their attacking frailties reflect in the fact that Panthers have inflicted only 3 all outs this season. Going into the match against the Fortune Giants, a considerable improvement is imperative for the Panthers for them to have any hope of winning this contest.
Gujarat Fortune Giants are sitting at a comfortable third position in the Zone A standings with a healthy 19 points from 5 games, which includes three wins and a thrilling tie against Dabang Delhi in their opening contest of the season. Fortune Giants have looked like a team that is slowly shaping up to be one of the best sides in the league and they have displayed similar credentials with twin victories over Zone A toppers Puneri Paltan including a win at the latte’s home stretch, which usually remains a fortress. The Fortune Giants might not be as prolific in attack as the Bengaluru Bulls or U Mumba but their average of 29.2 per match is significant considering their tight defence. The Gujarat Fortune Giants, right now, have the least number of points conceded in the league (144 in 5 matches), which reflects in their healthy points difference of 20.
The defence comprising Parvesh Bhainswal, Ruturaj Koravi and Sunil Kumar have combined as a unit to block opponents from breaching that fateful black line on more occasions than not. Lack of a prolific attack has compelled Gujarat Fortune Giants to play with a certain level of conservatism and it seems to be working. In the raiding department, a lot of their attack has been centred around Sachin, who has scored 36 points per match. However, other raiders would need to step up and contribute if the Fortune Giants are hoping to challenge for the title.
Fortune Giants will go into the game against Jaipur Pink Panthers will the hope of continuing their good run and taking advantage of the latter’s leaky defence. Sachin, Ajay Kumar and Sunil Kumar will need to step up against a Panthers side that might be short on everything but not potential to win any game on a given day. If the Fortune Giants can hold their defensive fort like they have done so far, they will go in as favourites for the match. The ‘to do’ task for the Panthers is clear – score more, concede less – and it means going back to the basics. With both sides not being excessively prolific, we can expect a relatively low scoring game.