Bengaluru: Defending champions Bengal Warriors would expect a better show from their players when they take on a struggling Puneri Paltan in their Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) match here on Sunday.
The holders have had a stuttering start to their title defence with only captain Maninder Singh and all-rounder Mohammad Nabibakhsh producing noteworthy performances.
Pune have also started the season on the backfoot with their experienced stars not producing the expected results.
Bengaluru Bulls will lock horns with UP Yoddha in the second match of the night.
The Warriors have just 17 points with three wins in seven matches. Maninder Singh has lacked a good secondary raider to support him which has seen the captain take a safer approach on the mat.
Sukesh Hegde has struggled while Mohammad Nabibakhsh has been entrusted with too many tasks. The Iranian all-rounder has looked impressive in Super Tackle situations, but a kabaddi team needs more than two men actively trying.
Maninder has constantly targeted the left of defence and Pune's Vishal Bharadwaj will certainly have a task on his hand. The corner defender has looked hasty all season and will need ample support from the right corner and cover to stop Maninder.
In Aslam Inamdar, Pankaj Mohite and Mohit Goyat, Pune have three outstanding young kabaddi players. But coach Anup Kumar has struggled to get the best out of the trio.
Aslam's raw power and energy is something that the coach will be wanting his team to use more during the raids. At the other end, Pankaj Mohite and Mohit Goyat can take turns to raid, thereby conserving their energy.
The strategy for Pune should be to avoid do-or-die raids. With three quality raiders in the ranks, they should attack more often and try to put the pressure on a Bengal defence low on confidence.
The Bengaluru Bulls have looked like they aren't going full throttle, yet which will be a concern for opponents considering how the season 6 champions are still picking up wins.
In fact, Pawan Sehrawat has spent a surprisingly long time in the dugout this season while Chandran Ranjit has not yet produced a stellar performance. The match is often won in a space of 5-10 minutes where Pawan Sehrawat decides to switch the gears. UP Yoddha's task will be to prevent Pawan from doing this to their defence.
Attack is often the best form of defence and Yoddha's raiding duo of Surender Gill and Pardeep Narwal will need to be aggressive against the Bengaluru defence.
Surender Gill has efficiently donned the role of lead raider for Yoddha with Pardeep Narwal still moving gingerly on the mat. The two will need to be switched on right from the beginning of the game.
A defensive approach against the Bulls seldom works as Pawan can produce multi-point raids at any given time.
Gill (21 points) and Pardeep Narwal (10 points) scored Super 10s for Yoddha in a match, which had way too many defensive errors.
Narwal's 18-point performance helped UP Yoddha secure a place in the semi-finals where they will play league table-toppers Patna Pirates on Wednesday.
Inamdar scored a Super 10 (17 points) while Abinesh Nadarajan clinched a High 5 (5 tackle points) for Paltan who had a near-flawless performance on the mat