India's second most watched league Pro Kabaddi League is back with its 9th edition from October 7th, 2022.
After an auction which saw records breaking left, right and centre, all the 12 franchises are having a new look from the change in players to coaching personnel.
We take a look at how U.P. Yoddhas line up for the upcoming season.
Last Season Review
U.P. Yoddhas is one of the most consistent teams since joining in the fifth season. They have reached the semi-finals/playoffs every time but never got their hand on the trophy.
It was a similar story last year after Yoddhas finished third in the season behind Patna Pirates and Dabang Delhi but they faced a rampant Patna in the semi-finals and lost to them.
They had quite a bit revelations last season in the form of Surender Gill, Ashu Singh, and Gurdeep Sangwan while Pardeep Narwal underperformed to his standards.
The duo of Nitesh and Sumit was one of the most feared defensive duos in the league last season.
PKL 9- Squad Changes
Following the same template as Delhi and Patna, UP Yoddhas have six core players from their previous season in the squad.
Yoddhas retained their star raider Surender Gill, captain Nitesh Kumar, Sumit and Ashu Singh.
In auction, they managed to get back the superstar raider Pardeep Narwal and all-rounder Gurdeep. Apart from them, they brought back experienced Nitin Tomar along with Irani powerhouse Abozar Mighani and experienced defender Jaideep.
This squad looks pretty much settled right now with every department having solid backups also.
U.P. retained youngsters Nitin Panwar, Rohit Tomar, Anil Kumar, Mahipal, Durgesh and brought back Gulveer Singh, James Kamweti and youngsters such as Rathan K, Nehal Desai and Babu Murugasan.
UP Yoddhas Full Squad-
Retained Players: Nitesh Kumar, Surender Gill, Sumit, Aman, Ashu Singh, Nitin Panwar, Shubham Kumar, Rohit Tomar, Anil Kumar, Mahipal, and Durgesh Kumar.
Auction Buys: Pardeep Narwal, Nitin Tomar, James Namaba Kamweti, Abozar Mighani, Gurdeep, Jaideep, Gulveer Singh, Rathan K, Nehal B Sawal Desai, and Babu Murugasan.
PKL 9 Preview- Strength and Weakness
Strength- U.P. Yoddhas is ticking all the boxes at the moment. They have a squad with balance of youth and experience.
The raiding trio of Surender Gill, Nitin Tomar and Pardeep Narwal will instill fear in any defence and are proven campaigners at this level.
Backing them up will be Rohit Tomar who had some game time last season, Rathan K and Gulveer with some experience.
In defence they have the duo of Skipper Nitesh and Sumit who 121 tackle points among them. Ashu was a revelation on the right cover position earning 53 points last season.
It will interesting to see who gets the left cover position as Abozar Mighani brings the experience of 4 seasons and super tackle master Gurdeep brings the youth power.
Backing them up is Jaideep who is a former champion and top defender from season five and proven campaigners in Shubham and Aman.
Weakness- There is a small chink in the armour of U.P. Yoddhas and that is a lack of all-rounders.
With only two recognized in their squad, they will heavily relying on the specialist players which can back-fire on the day they fail. All-rounders bring a balance to the squad with their multi-faceted gameplay but U.P. seems to be lacking that here.
Apart from this, U.P. has a solid unit which can lead them to the elusive title.
U.P. Yoddhas Predicted 7 for PKL 9
Nitesh Kumar (Right Corner), Sumit Sangwan (Left Corner), Pardeep Narwal (Right In), Surender Gill (Left In), Ashu Singh (Right Cover), Abozar Mighani (Left Cover) and Nitin Tomar (Center).