The Bengaluru Bulls' raiding versus the Gujarat Fortunegiants' defence will be the decisive contest when the two teams face each other - in a rematch of Qualifier 1 - in the final of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 6 in Mumbai on Saturday.
What do the stats say?
Bengaluru Bulls's raiding: Their 521 raid points is the most by a team, ahead of the 496 scored by the Patna Pirates in second place. Bengaluru also lead the list of average raid points per match, with 22.65 as compared to Patna's 22.55.
They also sit second in total points scored with 849, only seven points behind U Mumba. Bengaluru's dominant numbers have been largely thanks to the raiding of Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, who leads several key stats, including raid points (249 compared to 233 by second-placed Pardeep Narwal) and successful raids (189 compared to 185 by Pardeep).
Gujarat Fortunegiants' defence: Their 266 tackle points is second only to Mumba's 289 and they have averaged 11.08 tackle points per match (as compared to Mumba's 12.57). Gujarat's defending success has mainly been thanks to Parvesh Bhainswal and captain Sunil Kumar, who are in second (84 points) and fourth place (72 points), respectively, on the list of tackle points scored.
Head-to-head: Advantage Bengaluru
Most recent encounter, 31.12.18: Bengaluru 41 - 29 Gujarat
Their most recent contest, Qualifier 1, was not an encouraging one for Gujarat's title hopes. Against the raiding might of the unstoppable Pawan and the consistent Rohit Kumar, Bengaluru's captain, Gujarat's defence came apart. Parvesh and Sunil scored a combined single tackle point, an inexcusable showing against any team, let alone against the league's best attack.
Gujarat's raiding figures were respectable, thanks to Sachin Tanwar's 10 points, but the fact that they let Rohit, a raider, rack up five tackle points only added to their woes. In order to even stand a chance of lifting the title in their second straight PKL final, Gujarat's defence, the one that has served them so well all season, must show up on Saturday.
While Bengaluru have little to alter and must look to continue playing in the same vein as they have all season, Gujarat must guard against a worrying tendency to let leads slip, something they've done twice these playoffs already. In their encounter, Bengaluru came back from 26-20 down with nine minutes to go. While in Qualifier 2, UP fought back from 29-14 down, closing the gap to 34-29 before Gujarat held on for the win. In the Season 5 final against Patna, Gujarat led 14-8 before they were undone by Pardeep's individual brilliance.
"There is definitely an advantage (after beating Gujarat in Qualifier 1). We had a tie with them in one match and then we won the next one, so the team's confidence has gone up. If there was a different team in the final, we would have planned something else, but since it's against Gujarat again, my thinking is that if our defence and offence works the same way it did in the previous match, we can definitely win."
- Rohit Kumar, Bengaluru Bulls captain
"For the final, we've made a new strategy, practiced hard and our confidence has gone up as well after making the final. "The learning (from Qualifier 1) is that if we get a lead, we will maintain it, try to build on it and defend in a more controlled manner. We're going to play them for the third time this season and the confidence is high that this time we will win."
- Sunil Kumar, Gujarat Fortunegiants captain