It’s not even halfway through the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League 2019, which is why there is no better time than now to make outlandish predictions that may – but most likely won’t – come true. Each of the 12 teams play 22 Kabaddi games each in a season. Most of them have played between 7 to 9 matches so far this season. We have a surprise leader, and a surprise wooden-spooner already. Bereft of the zonal system that has plagued previous seasons, 2019 will be simple: Each team plays the other team twice and the top 6 teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at each of the 12 teams in this PKL and predict their final statistics:
JAIPUR PINK PANTHERS
Surprise leaders of PKL 7, the inaugural champions have won 7 out of their 9 games so far. In all of PKL 6, the Pink Panthers managed only 6 wins out of 22 games. They have improved by volumes already, and look good to seal a playoff spot. Unless, of course, they choke massively, Nilesh Solanki and Vishal get injured, and they win only 1 of their next 13 games. Even then they might qualify. But stranger things have happened. You never know.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 13, Lost 7, Draw 2
Just 1 defeat in 7 games augurs well for last year’s third-placed team. But the tough ones are still to come, especially the home leg, in which their fitness will truly be tested. Naveen Kumar will remain the key. The only way Delhi can mess this up is if they remember how their corresponding IPL team has underperformed in the last decade and choke as a tribute to cricket.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 10, Lost 10, Draw 2
The most aggressive raiding team of PKL 7 is also the riskiest – like the FC Goa of Kabaddi. The Warriors have been impressive, but the results have been mixed with them winning just 4 out of 8 matches so far. Prapanjan and Maninder Singh will hope to keep shining for a team that isn’t really expected to win the title but maybe play party pooper for a bunch of favourites.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 8, Lost 11, Draw 3
The defending champions have already lost 4 of their 9 games despite some superb performances by star raider Pawan Sehrawat. They have struggled for consistency, losing 2 of their last 3 games, and will look to pull up their socks now that all the teams are settled with predictable strengths and weaknesses.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 12, Lost 8, Draw 2
With a similar win-loss ratio to the Bulls, the in-form team at this stage in the season, the Steelers have pulled off some impressive wins after starting with 3 massive defeats. They have beaten Patna Pirates, Bengaluru Bulls and UP Yoddha in quick succession, but do they have the steel to do this for 13 more games.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 6, Lost 13, Draw 3
You can’t not win a tournament with Ajay Thakur, Rahul Chaudhuri and Manjeet Chillar in the same team. After a slow start, the Thalaivas have picked up some crucial wins, but have lost too many close games by 4 points or lesser. It’s all about finding that final burst to snatch victory under pressure. With just 3 wins in 9 games, expect them to explode soon.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 10, Lost 9, Draw 3
4 wins in 9 games is fine, but the losses and no draws have hurt the team that was not very long ago leading the table. U Mumba has always been a mid-table team, and it could be no different this year…unless Rohit Sharma is suddenly declared captain.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 8, Lost 13, Draw 1
Yoddha has been destroyed in the first three games they lost, but they have slowly found their feet and look good to be the surprise package this season, especially after defeating the table leaders comfortably in their last game. 31, 25 and 21 were the margins of defeat against Bengal Warriors, Gujarat Fortune Giants and Patna Pirates respectively. This might eventually hurt them.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 9, Lost 9, Draw 4
GUJARAT FORTUNE GIANTS
The twice runners-up have failed to get going so far this season, losing 6 of their first 9 games. To put things into perspective, they lost a total of just 3 out of 22 games last season – a record points tally by the end. But don’t count the Giants out yet. Nobody expects them to keep losing the close games. The turnaround will come. And it could be great.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 14, Lost 8
Despite beating the Bulls in their last game and drawing with the Thalaivas before that, the Paltan looks particularly weak on defense this season. Surjeet Singh and Nitin Tomar hold the key to their fortunes. But just 3 wins in 9 games isn’t a bright start, especially with the opposition only warming up.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 5, Lost 15, Draw 2
Suraj Desai, Siddharth Desai and Vishal Bhardwaj have come a cropper so far this season, with the Titans limping to just 2 wins in 9 games on 11th position in the table. Not much might change despite the star-studded team. The combination lacks rhythm, and the defense is leakier than manholes during Mumbai monsoons.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 6, Lost 14, Draw 2
The 3-time champions are currently, in a great shock, at the very bottom of the PKL 2019 table. 3 wins in 8 games doesn’t sound so bad, and it isn’t, given the sudden dip in form. They can easily go on a streak and win 5 of their next 6 if they find a way to close out the final moments. Expect a comeback, but not as big as Gujarat’s.
Prediction: Played 22, Won 8, Lost 10, Draw 4