Haryana Steelers face off against Puneri Paltan at Hyderabad
Haryana Steelers will be hoping for an improved performance this season with veteran Dharmaraj Cheralathan as the leader of their side. Cheralathan, who is one of India's most experienced players, captained the Patna Pirates to a title victory in the fourth season of PKL. He was also part of the World Cup winning Indian team in 2016.
Haryana will also bank on the insights and experience of India's kabaddi legend Rakesh Kumar, who is their coach. The two-time World Cup winning player said that his players are very excited to start the season.
"Our players are very excited for this season. They are working hard as they know that they have to play well and make their team the champions," said Kumar.
Puneri Paltan got the better of Haryana Steelers in each of their three matches in the last edition with scores of 34-22, 45-27 and 35-33.
However, the Steelers have brought back Prashanth Kumar Rai for PKL 7. Rai and Vikash Kandola played together in Season 5 and their partnership helped the Steelers reach the playoffs in their debut edition of PKL.
Both the raiders had an excellent sixth season. Kandola was the eighth best raider with 172 points for the Haryana team, while Rai finished as the 14th best raider with 144 points for UP Yoddha. The Haryana Steelers will be hoping that both the raiders can continue their form in the seventh season.
The Steelers will have to be wary of the experienced Nitin Tomar of Puneri Paltan. Tomar has recorded the 13th most raid points (377) in 53 matches in the PKL. Paltan's young raider Manjeet, who scored 87 points for Patna Pirates in the last season, could pose a threat as well.
"All the players are good in Puneri Paltan. They have experienced as welll as young players. They have Nitin Tomar, Girish Maruti Ernak and Surjeet Singh in the defence. But, we have good players in our team and we don't think anyone is stronger or weaker than us," Rakesh Kumar said.