From Manjeet Chhillar's poor form in Jaipur Pink Panthers' miserable home run to Rishank Devadiga's prolific raiding display, here are the top talking points from PKL's Week 11.
Who impressed, who disappointed
Rishank Devadiga has been one of the standout players for UP Yoddha this year and he raced to a Super 10 in just ten minutes against Jaipur Pink Panthers. Devadiga put the result beyond doubt with his two super raids inside the opening half. His scored 28 raid points in the match, three more than the Panthers team combined.
Panthers won only one of their six matches at home last week, thus ending all hopes of making the knockouts. One of the main reasons behind that was captain Manjeet Chhillar's poor performance in defence. Chhillar only scored 11 points in the four matches that he played and is easily having his most uninspired season in the PKL. He has only scored 49 points this season from 14 games -- he had scored at least 68 in each of the four previous editions. While injuries have forced him to miss a few matches, he has not been anywhere close to his best when he has made it to the starting seven.
Panga of the week
In a week of one-sided matches, the clash between Gujarat Fortunegiants and Patna Pirates produced high level of competitive entertainment. The Pirates have scored the most raid points this season, while the Fortunegiants have been the second best team defensively, scoring the second-most tackle points. Fortunegiants scored five more tackle points than Pirates in this week's clash as their defence, led by Fazel Atrachali, proved to be the difference.
Tactical genius and dud
A 13-week long season has meant that teams have had to use more than one captain through the course of the tournament and it was a stand-in captain who impressed the most this week. Rishank Devadiga led UP Yoddha to a 53-32 win vs. the Panthers, spending the entire 40 minutes on the mat. He was not tackled successfully in the entire match and scored three Super Raids.
Hailed as a tactical genius in the past, Manjeet Chhillar has failed to inspire the Panthers, who have been particularly shoddy in defence. They are ninth on the list of teams with the most successful tackles and Chhillar, who is their main defender, has failed to organize the backline or curb the overenthusiasm of his young teammates.
The Fortunegiants have shown a lot faith in young players this season and 19-year-old Rohit Gulia, playing in his first campaign, has made the most of those opportunities. After a string of substitute apperances, Gulia has become a regular in the starting seven. Such has been his success that regular captain Sukesh hedge has been consigned to the bench as the young trio of Gulia, Sachin and Sunil Kumat has contributed heavily in both raid and tackle points.
It might well be time to rename this category after Fazel Atrachali. Continuing his supremely consistent streak, the Iranian defender was once again outstanding against the formidable Pirates, and even captained the team to two wins in the past week.
Unlike his compatriot Meraj Sheykh, who has struggled to communicate with his Indian teammates, Atrachali has struck up a great partnership with countryman Abozar Mohajer Mighani in the Fortunegiants' defence.
Team of the week
Haryana Steelers won both their matches last week and are currently on a five-match winning streak. Like the Fortunegiants, the Steelers have not been over-reliant on one player, with all of their first-choice seven contributing to the team tally.
They lead the do-or-die raids and tackle points tally, underlining the balanced nature of the team. They have qualified for the knockouts despite not having a single player amongst the the top 10 point-scorers this season. However, they have seven players in the list of top 52 point scorers this season.
With five of the six playoffs spots decided and Yoddhas looking more or less certain to take up the sixth, teams will look to finish number one in their zone as that would give them two opportunities of making the final.
The match between the Fortunegiants and Puneri Paltan could decide the Zone A winner, while Bengal Warriors will be favourites to finish top in Zone B with their two remaining matches being against Tamil Thalavas and Telugu Titans, two teams already out of contention for the playoffs.