The team broke the bank in the auction to secure the services of Pardeep Narwal.

Fans of kabaddi cannot wait for the return of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) after a two-year long absence. The auction for the eighth season of the competition was the perfect opportunity for teams to bid for their desired players before the season starts in December. Teams splashed the clash to strenghten their squads.

UP Yoddha spent a lot of money during the auction in order to get their desired targets. They made a statement by bringing in Pardeep Narwal, paying a whopping ₹1.65 crore to secure his services, thus making him the highest paid player in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League. Narwal will add to the firepower already present at UP Yoddha, which makes them tough operators ahead of the competition.

Here we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their squad before the season kicks off.

Strengths

Pardeep Narwal fortifies raiding department 

Pardeep Narwal comes to UP Yoddha with huge pedigree. He was the most crucial element in Patna Pirates winning the title three times. As a result, he is considered one of the best players to grace the PKL. He has amassed over 1169 points during his career in the league overall. Last season, Narwal scored 302 raid points, even though the Pirates did not have a very fruitful season. Narwal’s calibre is such that he can single-handedly turn a game in his team’s favour. 

Pardeep Narwal’s arrival has put a spring in the step for the fans of UP Yoddha. The acquisition of the raider will also increase the morale of the team and boost their chances of success in the upcoming season. 

Srikant Jadhav’s impact

Jadhav will be a reliable partner to Pardeep Narwal in the UP Yoddha attack (Courtesy: Pro Kabaddi)

Another figure who can make a lasting impression is Srikant Jadhav. The UP Yoddha have a reliable raider like him in addition to Narwal for the next season. Jadhav was part of the team last season and understands their ambitions better than anyone else. He played a crucial role in helping the outfit reach the playoffs last term.

Srikant is a composed figure who does well in do-or-die raids. Famous for the “Toe Touch” tactic, he collected 43 do-or-die raid points in the sixth season of the league. He will do a great job in a situation where UP Yoddha want to preserve Narwal and use an alternative option. Jadhav collected 148 points for the team in the seventh edition and will be a player to watch out for.

Defence is biggest strength

The defensive department was crucial in helping UP Yoddha secure a playoff spot last season. With a defender like Nitesh Kumar, the outfit can turn the tide in any game solely based on their defensive prowess. He made history back in the sixth season after collecting 100 tackle points, which is the highest for any player in a single season. In the same campaign, he made eight high-fives, which was the second-highest in the competition.

Nitesh Kumar will be in command of the defensive department yet again. He will hope to guide the outfit into the playoffs once more. Sumit was the wall on the left, if Nitesh was the mountain on the right last season. The defender made a good pairing with Kumar and troubled plenty of raiders. He managed 80 points in his debut season. Sumit could make a difference in the upcoming season as well.

Weaknesses

There is always a weak link in the strongest of armours and same is the case with UP Yoddha. The outfit have a few areas of concern which can be an obstacle in the coming season. Whether they fix them or let these weaknesses affect them could be the difference between success or failure.

Pardeep Narwal could take time to settle in new surroundings

Pardeep Narwal Pro Kabaddi league
Pardeep Narwal may take time to adjust to his new surrounding (Credit: Pro Kabaddi)

UP Yoddha may have a raider like Narwal, but they will be reliant on his performances for success. Expectedly, he could take some time to settle in with a new team alongside new faces. Srikant Jadhav and Surender Gill are the other options in the raiding department, but they lack the capabilities of someone like Narwal. Gill also lacks experience which could hurt his chances to impress. 

In case of an injury or a rough patch of form, the team do not have enough options and this could backfire. Previous seasons are evidence of how relying on other raiders may not be enough to win the PKL for UP Yoddha. 

Lack of experienced defenders apart from Nitesh Kumar

The biggest strength of UP Yoddha could become their biggest weakness too. The outfit are majorly reliant on Nitesh Kumar in defence. Sumit may be a good player, but it will be tough for him to repeat his exploits from the previous season. Ashish Nagar has played two seasons, while Sumit and Anshu Singh played their debut terms last time around. There is inexperience across the board which could be a cause for concern for the franchise. 

Full Squad

Raiders – Pardeep Narwal, Surender Gill, Gulveer Singh, Sahil, Srikant Jadhav, Masood Karim, Mohammad Mahali, Ankit

Defenders – Nitesh Kumar, Sumit, Anshu Singh, Gaurav Kumar, Ashish Nagar

All Rounders – Gurdeep,Nitin Panwar

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