So after nearly a 3-month long schedule of PKL 2018, we will find out this season's champions at the final tomorrow between Bengaluru Bulls and Gujarat Fortune Giants at the NSCI Dome at Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium in Mumbai at 8 pm IST.
The last encounter between the two sides in Qualifier 1 gave the Bulls an entry into the finals with a comprehensive, 41-29, victory over the Fortune Giants.
The Bulls started the game with a couple of changes as Ajay and Ankit got a start in the defense ahead of the regulars, Ashish Kumar Sangwan and Raju Lal Choudhary.
This move by Bulls coach, Randhir Singh had baffled fans and commentators alike. Without the regulars in defense, the Bulls soon displayed signs of discord in their defensive setup, leaking easy points to the Fortune Giants' raiders, Sachin and K Prapanjan.
With a 20-25 scoreline and 10 minutes remaining in the match, Randhir Singh realised the errors of his ways, and substituted in Ashish and Raju to give their defense the familiar strength that oppositions had come to fear.
With the right defense in place, it was time for the Bulls raiders to shine, and shine they did. Pawan Kumar Sehrawat grabbed the opportunity with both hands and scored successive super-raids to take his team ahead of the Fortune Giants.
The impact of Pawan's raiding was such that the Fortune Giants couldn't recover thereafter and could only manage 3 points vis-a-vis the Bulls' 21 in the final 10 minutes of the match.
During and after the match, it was quite evident on the face of Manpreet Singh, the Fortune Giants' coach, that his young team was overwhelmed by the occasion and couldn't rise up to it.
With the takeaways from the Bulls game and the desire to make it to their second consecutive finals, Manpreet and his wards approached yesterday's game against the U.P. Yoddha.
The defense of the Fortune Giants, which had let them down against the Bulls, rose up to their coach's call and organised themselves as the potent force that they had been throughout the tournament.
With patience and decisiveness, the Fortune Giants defense managed to keep Prashanth Kumar Rai, the man in-form, quiet on the night to tilt the game in their favour, and their raiders, who continued their raiding form from Qualifier 1, did their job well to secure the game and a spot in the final for their side.
Whatever the result of tomorrow's final be, one thing is for sure- the Pro Kabaddi League will see a new champion emerge in a season which saw the traditional powerhouses of PKL falter, veterans retire or fail, and new faces take the world of Kabaddi by storm.
The two teams, Gujarat Fortune Giants and Bengaluru Bulls, last met in Qualifier 1, where the Bulls registered a comprehensive victory, 41-29, over the Fortune Giants.
In the league stage, the two teams faced each other just once this season, in Match 69, which ended in a tie with a 30-30 scoreline.
Key Battles to keep an eye on
#1 Pawan Kumar Sehrawat (right raider) vs Sunil Kumar (right cover)
#2 Sachin (right raider) vs Amit Sheoran (left corner)
Probable playing 7
Gujarat Fortune Giants: Sunil Kumar (c), Sachin, K.Prapanjan, Hadi Oshtorak, Parvesh Bhainswal, Ruturaj Koravi, and Sachin Vittala
Bengaluru Bulls: Rohit Kumar (c), Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, Kashiling Adake, Ashish Kumar Sangwan, Mahender Singh, Amit Sheoran, and Raju Lal Choudhary
When and where to watch: 20:00 IST on the Star Sports network and on digital streaming platform Hotstar.Published 05 Jan 2019, 08:00 IST