All-Time Best Playing 7 of UP Yoddha: A Team That has Made it to the PKL Play-Offs 3 out of 3 times!
UP Yoddha was one of the four new franchises that joined the Pro Kabaddi League from the fifth season. The Uttar Pradesh-based franchise has been very consistent in the league as it has made it to the playoffs thrice in three seasons.
They attained the third position in Zone B during PKL 5, while they finished at the same place in season six. In season seven, when the league organizers altered the format, UP Yoddha once again ended the league stage at the third position and secured a place in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team has not been able to fare well in the knockout phase as they have never played a single Pro Kabaddi League final. However, none of the other new entrants have been able to qualify for the playoffs in all three seasons so far.
Three players have played a massive role in UP Yoddha’s success in the Pro Kabaddi League. They are Nitesh Kumar, Rishank Devadiga, and Shrikant Jadhav. Speaking of Devadiga first, he has struggled with his injury issues, but the team management has always backed him. In the last three seasons, Rishank has scored 340 raid points for the Yoddhas, the most for any raider that has played for the team.
Nitesh Kumar was instrumental in the team’s turnaround during the sixth season. Kumar became the first defender to score 100 tackle points in one Pro Kabaddi League season as the right corner defender made the life of the opposition raiders a living hell. He scored eight High 5s and eight super tackles in that season. Continuing his fine form in season seven, Nitesh added 75 tackle points and six High 5s to his tally.
Shrikant Jadhav was a part of U Mumba in season five, but the switch to UP Yoddha proved to be a game-changer for him in the next season. Jadhav came into the spotlight with his toe touch skills. He was the second-best raider for UP Yoddha in the sixth season, with 141 raid points in 25 matches. His numbers improved a bit in season seven as he aggregated 148 raid points in 22 games.
There is only one raiding position up for grabs, and there are two contenders for the spot. The first contender is Prashanth Kumar Rai. The 6 ft tall raider played for UP Yoddha in the sixth season and was the team’s best raider with 144 raid points in 21 games. He scored five Super 10s for his team. Still, the team management did not retain him in the next season.
The second Yoddha competing for a spot in the all-time seven is Nitin Tomar. The current Puneri Paltan player donned UP Yoddha’s jersey in season five. That season was the best one of Nitin’s career as he ended season five with 167 raid points in 20 matches, including seven Super 10s. Even though Tomar’s numbers are better than Prashanth, it is noteworthy that the latter scored those points in a season where UP Yoddha struggled to gain any momentum. His efforts in the raiding department helped the Yoddhas sneak into the playoffs. Hence, Rai takes the third spot in the raiding unit.
There are three places vacant in the defensive unit. There is not much competition here as Sumit is the prime pick for the left corner position. He scored more points than his captain Nitesh Kumar in the last season of PKL. Although he was making his debut in PKL 7, Sumit ended the tourney with 77 tackle points in 22 matches.
Jeeva Kumar and Sachin Kumar will take up the two cover positions. Veteran defender Jeeva can play at any cover position, but since Sachin is a left defender, Jeeva gets to play at the right cover in this all-time seven. The current Bengal Warriors player scored 84 tackle points for UP Yoddha in two seasons. He also registered two High 5s in the defense.
Sachin Kumar played for the Bengaluru Bulls before becoming a part of UP Yoddha. He has been an essential member of the team’s defense, scoring 50 tackle points in two seasons. Kumar also contributed his bit in the raiding unit during the sixth edition of PKL as he amassed 25 raid points for the team. Although his tackle strike rate is below 50%, Sachin has assisted the other defenders in executing the other tackles.
Playing Seven Stats for UP Yoddha
Left Corner - Sumit
Matches - 22, Tackle Points - 80
Left In - Shrikant Jadhav
Matches - 47, Raid Points - 289
Left Cover - Sachin Kumar
Matches - 40, Total Points - 77, Tackle Points - 50
Center - Rishank Devadiga
Matches - 62, Raid Points - 340
Right Cover - Jeeva Kumar
Matches - 41, Tackle Points - 84
Right In - Prashanth Kumar Rai
Matches - 21, Raid Points - 144
Right Corner - Nitesh Kumar
Matches - 67, Tackle Points - 222
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