U.P. Yoddha is an up and coming professional Kabaddi team from Uttar Pradesh who debuted in the Season 5 of Pro Kabaddi League, the professional Kabaddi league of India. They made a decent outing in their debut season by reaching the playoffs and will look to moving forward in the upcoming PKL 2018 season.
The Lucknow based franchise is owned by the GMR League Games Private Limited and plays their home matches at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium.
The most expensive pick was raider Rishank Devadiga in the 2018 PKL auction, who broke the Rs 1 Crore barrier when he became the third Indian to do so. UP Yoddha were keen to shell out any amount to retain him on the team. Jeeva Kumar was another player bought by the franchise with as high a price as Rs 45 Lakh while highly rated raider Prashanth Kumar Rai was bought for an astronomical fee of Rs. 79 lakh after involving in a tug of war with other franchises.
The franchise decided not to retain any more players and spend fair amount to add players to the roster which now looks like a good balance of talents and experience with the likes of young new players like Azad Singh, Arkam Shaikh, all-rounder Seong Ryeol Kim of South Korea, and Shrikant Jadhav among others.
Playing just one season of the league, UP Yoddha has put up quite a commendable performance finishing third in their Zonal stage. They qualified to the Eliminators where they lost to Puneri Paltan 38-40.
With Rishank Devadiga heading the team, coach J Udaya Singh is positive that they will put their best feet forward this season and advance to the qualifiers and battle to stay at the top.
In their previous season, the team was heavily dependent upon the raiding duo of Nitin Tomar and Rishank Devadiga. Other raiders failed to live up to the expectations and ended up finishing 11th in the PKL Points Table for do or die raid points.
Rajesh Narwal, the second richest buy of the season at ₹69 lakhs also failed miserably and scored only 27 points in a total of 16 games.
Their loss in the Eliminator match versus Puneri Paltans could be accounted to the poor defence which led down the team with just 8 tackle points compared to Pune's 17. Over dependability on Nitin and Rishank and a deficient defence hindered the progress in their debut season.
Major Players for the PKL 2018
With their decision to retain Rishank Devadiga over Nitin Tomar, by the highest bid, undoubtedly pressure remains on him as the new leader. Nitesh Kumar with his steady performance in the middle phases of the 2017 tournament and being the highest tackle points scorer for his team, is highly expected to boost the team’s in the 6th season. Whereas in crucial situations Shrikant Jadhav along with Prashanth Kumar will be the team's flamboyant hustlers.
Jeeva Kumar, debutant Nitin Mavi are hopeful of holding up a strong defence with the others and an all round performance from Sagar Krishna with the new Korean player Seong Ryeol Kim, UP Yoddha will look to outshine others with their abilities on the court.