Patna Pirates would also like to consolidate their position at the top of the table when they face U Mumba.

In-form Haryana Steelers will battle Tamil Thalaivas on Tuesday (February 8th) in vivo Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8. Haryana’s collective efforts helped them win their last two matches and position themselves as a frontrunner for a Playoff spot. Their cover defenders Jaideep and Mohit have been formidable throughout the tournament while their raiders have taken turns to dominate the mat. Tamil Thalaivas have endured a mixed season with many ups and downs. But on their day, the team from Tamil Nadu are an unstoppable force marshalled by seasoned defender Surjeet Singh.

The second match of the night will see U Mumba take on table-toppers Patna Pirates. PKL Season 2 champions Mumbai will need to beat Patna to stay firmly in contention for a Playoff spot. Both matches will be held at the Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru.

The battle of the defence

Tamil Thalaivas win matches when their defence performs. But unfortunately for them, their usually reliable defence has been switching off in important encounters in PKL 8. Sagar and Sahil in the corners were outstanding in the Southern Derbies. They will need to replicate that form and hope captain Surjeet Singh has a solid day on the mat to stop the wily raiders of Haryana. The cover defender started the season well for the South Indian team but has seen a slow decline in form as the tournament progressed. Surjeet and Sagar dominated the reverse fixture which Thalaivas won 45-26. Thalaivas’ Manjeet and Ajinkya Pawar are good raiders, but they don’t usually get multi-point raids. Therefore, it is important for their defenders to keep scoring points at the other end.

Haryana coach Rakesh Kumar is in fact spoiled with the choices he has for raiders. He can choose from Vikash Kandola, Meetu, Rohit Guliya and Vinay – all excellent raiders – to face the Tamil defenders. The trick would be to mix both left and right raiders to not let the Thalaivas settle. 

Old foes meet

Patna and Mumbai are arguably the most successful teams in vivo PKL history. The three-time champions are currently on top of the points table, having played a match lesser than their nearest competitor, and will be eyeing another victory to consolidate their position. Patna have arguably the most balanced side in Season 8. In attack, they have the speedy Sachin and Guman Singh backed by the experienced stars Prashanth Rai and Monu Goyat. In defence, there is Iranian sensation Mohammadreza Shardloui in the left corner. The cover combination of Neeraj Kumar and Sajin C has been outstanding too.

With 3 wins in 4 matches, Patna will go into the match against U Mumba as favourites. But Fazel Atrachali and his Mumbai men will not be easy pushovers. On their day, Mumbai have the capability to stop the best sides in vivo PKL. Their raiders Abhishek Singh and Ajith Kumar will be required to put on their thinking caps against an aggressive Patna defence. The former will need to preserve himself as Patna would be coming into the match with a plan to stop his running hand touches. The likes of Monu Goyat, who can also contribute in defence from the IN positions might be used to stop Abhishek’s runs. Despite Mumbai’s defensive core, they have often started matches on the attack. But against Patna, it might be wise to slow down and take it to the third raids. 

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