Pro Kabaddi League Season 6: Predicting U.P. Yoddha's starting seven for the initial matches
The franchise based on Uttar Pradesh, U.P. Yoddha were one out of the four teams which debuted in Season 5 and had a decent outing in their debut season with them reaching the playoffs. The team owned by GMR group could only win 8 out of 22 matches, but they mostly took advantage of losing games in less than 7-point margin which took them towards Eliminators.
Their richest buy, Nitin Tomar at ₹93 lakhs formed a raiding partnership with Rishank Devadiga and scored 347 raid points out of U.P.'s 461 total raid points (75.21% of the team's raid points). The team was heavily dependent upon this raiding duo with other raiders failing to live up to the reputation. Even in the do or die raids, they stood 11th in the total team rankings for do or die raid points.
Their expectations were higher with Rajesh Narwal, the second richest buy of the season at ₹69 lakhs who failed miserably and scored 27 points in 16 games. Only Jeeva Kumar in the covers was an experienced defender in their team who did justice to his name. The new corners Nitesh Kumar, Pankaj, and Sagar Krishna rose to the occasion but for a couple of times only.
They lost their Eliminator match versus Puneri Paltan (40-38) as their defence led them down with just 8 tackle points in comparison with Pune's 17 tackle points. Over dependability on Nitin and Rishank and a miserable defence which gifted points to the opposition were the reason, they couldn't progress ahead in their debut season.
For Season 6, U.P. Yoddha has managed to sign 19 players as Ashish Nagar (defender) was picked by the team after the auctions ended. They chose to retain Rishank Devadiga over Nitin Tomar as they used their FBM card over Dabang Delhi K.C.'s winning bid of ₹1.11 crores.
With Arjun Singh as the head coach and Jasveer Singh (not the Nawabi raider from Pink Panthers) as the assistant coach, they have managed to build a decent squad for the upcoming season. Here's a prediction to how U.P. Yoddha may line up their playing 7 for the initial phase of the tournament:
Right Corner: Nitesh Kumar
Nitesh Kumar was the highest tackle points scorer of U.P. Yoddha with 47 tackle points in 19 matches. Averaging 2.47 tackle points per game, Nitesh Kumar performed like a stalwart after he arrived in the middle phases of the tournament.
His highlight performance came in the final home leg match versus Telegu Titans where the combination tackles of him and Jeeva Kumar kept Rahul Chaudhari out of the court for a long duration. The double thigh hold on Rahul in the last 30 seconds stole the game away from the Titans and won them their first home match.
Nitesh had 4 High 5s in Season 5. An expert in double thigh holds and chain tackles, Nitesh will have to uplift his game to stay as team's permanent right corner.