It's PKL final day! 136 matches, a nerve-wracking league stage that went down to the wire, COVID-19 uncertainties, a taxing bio-bubble, no crowds... and we're here. The final of PKL 8.
We ask (and answer) all the relevant questions before the biggest match in kabaddi.
Patna Pirates and Dabang Delhi KC.
When are they playing?
The match will start at 8.30 PM IST on Friday, February 25.
Where can we watch it?
Star Sports TV network and Disney+ Hotstar. Plus our live blog, if you fancy the written word.
More details on the teams now. Have they gotten to this stage before?
This is Delhi's second final. They were here the previous season, PKL 7, where they lost to the Bengal Warriors.
The Pirates own this stage. It's their fourth final (more than anyone else, by a margin). They have never lost one of these before.
How did they do in the league stage?
The Pirates qualified with room to spare, a country mile ahead of everyone else. They had, in fact, the largest margin between #1 and #2 in league history.
Delhi qualified second. It's 1 v 2 in the final.
Anyone we should keep an eye on?
Delhi's attack is a one-man show, run by the hottest property in world kabaddi, Naveen Kumar. He has averaged 12.13 points a match and despite playing only 16 matches (out of a possible 23) has 50 more raid points than anyone else on the team.
In the semifinal against the Bengaluru Bulls, he appeared to still have a tape around his injured knee but his speed, and effectiveness, remained unaffected.
The Pirates, meanwhile, are a truly collective unit -- they are only one of three teams in PKL history to make it to the playoffs without a player in the top 10 for points collected in a season.
In a flip-the-script, revolutionise-the-sport move, the Pirates' coach Ram Mehar Singh has built a team that attacks and defends as one. It really is hard to pick one name -- left corner Mohammadreza Chiyaneh, right corner Sunil and covers Neeraj Kumar and Sajin Chandrasekhar form a fierce defence. Their battle against Naveen should be one for the ages.
Any weaknesses we should watch out for?
What the Pirates have done this season is incredible, and unprecedented. Which comes with its own risks -- without a clear-cut superstar (like former prodigal son Pardeep Narwal) taking the load of expectations and pressure off the team, can they hold their own on the biggest stage? (Nothing they have done this season seems to indicate they won't, by the by).
Delhi's defence. They came out on top in the semi, but the ageing defence was a major problem early in the season before they got their act together. There's still lots to exploit there, though, including their tendency to rush into tackles and defend as individuals.
It's old-school vs new-age kabaddi, then?
You could say that.
Anyway, it should be fun?
Absolutely! It should make for must-watch, and must-read, entertainment.