Star Sports Pro Kabaddi 2016 semi-final preview: Defending champions Pirates face determined Paltan
We have finally entered the business end of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi Season 4 and with a notable absentee. 3-time finalists U Mumba failed to make it to the knock-out stage for the first time ever after Puneri Paltan beat them to the 4th spot on the final day of the league stage.
The four teams who have qualified for the semis are:
- Patna Pirates
- Telugu Titans
- Jaipur Pink Panthers
- Puneri Paltan
Telugu Titans will have the home advantage as both the semis and the final will take place at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. Let’s have a look at the four teams and preview the semi-finals:
1st Semis: Patna Pirates vs Puneri Paltan
The reigning champions were completely dominant in the league stage and held on to the top spot, finishing on 52 points, the lowest total by a team that finished top of the group. Puneri Paltan, on the other hand, had to wait for the final day to qualify for the semis, shrugging off the challenge from Season 2 winners U Mumba. The first semi-final will see a repeat of last season’s semis, where the team from Patna beat the Pune-based franchise.
In their first ever semi-final, Manjeet Chhillar’s team were humiliated 21-40, but with the signings of Joginder Narwal, Sonu Narwal and Nitin Tomar, they look a much stronger unit. Patna Pirates will aim to become the first team after U Mumba to qualify for back to back finals after winning the title last time around.
Manjeet Chhillar’s return from injury couldn’t have been timed better and with Deepak Niwas Hooda in red-hot form, Fazel Atrachali and Dharmaraj Cheralathan will have to be on their toes. Patna Pirates were able to rest their stars, having secured qualification in the Mumbai leg. Pardeep Narwal and Rajesh Mondal will be eager to get back on the mat and are sure to give Joginder and Ravinder Pahal a harrowing time.
Pune have a horrendous head-to-head record against Patna, having NEVER beaten the reigning champions in 9 attempts, in which they have lost 7 times! Patna Pirates, however, are the team that has lost the most number of semi-finals – 2. It is sure to be a cracker.
Match starts at 8 pm IST.
2nd Semis: Telugu Titans vs Jaipur Pink Panthers
The second match of the day will be a return to the elite for both Telugu Titans and Jaipur Pink Panthers. The former are making their return to the semi-final after a season, while the latter failed to make the semis after winning the title in Season 1. Having led the table for a while during the league stage, the Pink Panthers faltered at the end to finish 3rd as the Titans took the second spot with a win over table toppers Patna Pirates in the final leg.
The Titans’ last appearance at the final 4 ended in disappointment as they suffered a narrow 38-39 loss vs Bengaluru Bulls. With the signings of both the Sandeeps – Narwal and Dhull, however, they look a formidable side and are currently on a 9-match unbeaten run. The Pink Panthers, on the other hand, seem to have lost their way a bit, but Shabeer Bappu has given their attack a different dimension.
Both the teams had opportunities to rest their players and it will be Shabeer and Jasvir Singh who will have to take the fight to the two Sandeeps. The league’s top scorer Rahul Chaudhari will have to be on top form to counter the dangerous Amit Hooda and experienced Ran Singh.
Abhishek Bachchan’s side narrowly edge the head to head as they’ve won 4 of the 8 matches played while the Titans have emerged victorious on 3 occasions. Jaipur have the experience, but the team from Hyderabad are playing at home and will be backed by a vociferous crowd. It is sure to be a cracker on 29th June so stay tuned!
Match starts at 9.10 pm IST.