#OnTheBall with Suhail Chandhok, prematch review - Haryana Steelers vs Gujarat Fortunegiants


The Pro Kabaddi caravan moves from Chennai to Sonipat and it’s a huge few days coming up for the home side, the Haryana Steelers. My sources tell me their skipper Monu Goyat is fit and will be starting the leg vs Gujarat Fortune Giants tonight but of course they will be without the services of left-corner specialist, Surender Nada, who may miss a large part of the tournament. The timing of Haryana’s home leg is quite unfortunate given the injury concerns so it puts them on the back foot in some sense. They will have to manage Monu Goyat because with multiple games to be played back-to-back, the last thing they want is to aggravate the injury to him.

Haryana comes up against Manpreet’s young Gujarat side first up and it will be a threat for the raiders given the organized unit that Gujarat are in defense. The cover combination from last season with Captain Sunil Kumar & Parvesh Bainswal is working well while the young corners are looking to make the most of their opportunity. Haryana were the ONLY team to beat Gujarat twice in PKL 5 last season so they will draw a lot of confidence from there.

Haryana will certainly miss Surender Nada’s presence. He alone has played 72 PKL matches with 222 tackle points while the ENTIRE rest of the defense has played 105 matches and contributes just 145 tackle points! Gujarat’s cover defense started strong with 6 tackle points between them while Haryana’s covers had just 1 tackle point combined from 5 attempts. Sachin Shingade will have to lift his game and young Mayur will be thrust with more responsibility perhaps too.

Haryana lost their first match vs Pune while Gujarat scraped a tie vs Delhi so both sides are yet to get their first win of PKL 6. The biggest question will be on how Monu will convert himself from a great supporting raider to being leader of the pack. He has done it in the Nationals etc. but this is a whole new platform altogether with a lot more pressure riding on him under the spotlight. He scored 191 raid points last season with 9 Super 10s but struggled a little vs Gujarat’s defense last season picking up 19 raid points from 3 games. So will Manpreet have a set plan for him and how will Monu look to counter that plan? Vikas Kandola will have to become “Monu” of PKL 5 to Goyat himself and play the perfect foil.

When you look at direct Head 2 Head battles:

Monu Goyat vs Sunil Kumar: 2 – 5 in favour of Sunil
Monu Goyat vs Parvesh: 4 – 2 in favour of Monu
Wazir Singh vs Sunil Kumar: 0 – 3 in favour of Sunil

So these numbers will certainly play on Haryana’s mind while on the other side Gujarat have a very able 2nd raider in Prapanjan who has in the past held a good record vs Sachin Shingade and the Haryana defenders.

My probable 7
Sunil R. Corner Ruturaj
Mayur R. Cover Sunil Kumar
Kuldeep Singh L. Corner Kalai Arsan (Who would like to see Sachin Vittala)
Sachin Shingade L. Cover Parvesh Bainswal
Monu Goyat Raider 1 Sachin
Vikas Khandola Raider Prapanjan
Wazir Singh Raider Rohit Gulia

This is going to be a very tight match up but I do think Guajarat have the edge going into it even though Monu is back for Haryana. We will see passages of play which will play on the Do-Or-Die raids which should also be exciting to watch!

Thanks for joining me #OnTheBall and hope you enjoy all the action as I jump into the commentary box later tonight!