Pro Kabaddi 2019, Team Preview: UP Yoddha

Pro Kabaddi League season 7 is only a few months away as the action-packed edition will commence from 20th July 2019.

UP Yoddha were one out of four teams that debuted in season 5. They managed to qualify into the playoffs in only their debut season courtesy of the raiding duo of Nitin Tomar and Rishank Devadiga but fell short in the eliminator against the Puneri Paltan.

In Season 6, the Yoddha started on a dismal note but made a brilliant comeback in the latter part of the tournament, beating teams such as U Mumba, Dabang Delhi to make their way into the qualifiers courtesy of Shrikant Jadhav, Prashant Kumar Rai and in particular, Nitesh Kumar, who became the first defender to score 100 tackle points.

Similar to last season, UP Yoddha focused on procuring the services of a formidable raiding trio after retaining their defensive core in the team. Considering how the team built on their offensive attack, the team management used both of their FBM cards on Shrikant Jadhav and their captain, Rishank Devadiga by shelling out ₹66 lakh and ₹61 lakh respectively.

Shrikant Jadhav and Monu Goyat will together lead UP's offense.
Shrikant Jadhav and Monu Goyat will together lead UP’s offense.

The team management spent an enormous amount of ₹93 lakh on Monu Goyat who had a stellar season with Patna Pirates back in Season 5. Monu is a calculative raider who has sequential shuffling skills in his raiding. He could be leading the offense for UP Yoddha with his unique set of raiding skills.

Shrikant Jadhav emerged as a do-or-die specialist back in season 5 under the captaincy of Anup Kumar in U Mumba. He became a standout player for UP Yoddha in the next season as he led the offense in most matches while Rishank Devadiga and Prashant Kumar Rai were not at their best in the raiding department.

He has worked well on his hand touches and his ability to escape from the grasp of the defenders will certainly come to the fore and allow him to form a partnership in the offense with Monu Goyat.

Rishank Devadiga will have a leadership role to play as he is most likely to lead the team yet again in season 7. He is capable of raiding during crucial stages of the matches, and will be banked to come good, given the fact that he is one of the lead raiders in the team.

The most experienced player in the squad, Rishank Devadiga has 549 raid points in 103 games at an average of 5.33 raid points.

Rishank Devadiga will lead UP Yoddha as a calm and composed captain.
Rishank Devadiga will lead UP Yoddha as a calm and composed captain.

The trio of Rishank, Monu, and Shrikant will lead the offense for UP Yoddha which could be a highlight in UP Yoddha’s possible road to playoffs. Despite a threat of Rishank’s lack of form recently, the depth of experience in the raiding unit with Monu and Shrikant could allow him to play without any pressure.

Azad Singh and Surender Singh Bhola are known for their ability to play in crucial raids of the match because of their reach to the midline. They can be used as substitutions when needed.

Ankush (NYP), Gulveer Singh and Bangladesh player Md Masud Karim are the other raiders who may get some game time in the middle of the tournament if the team fares well in league stages.


The ankle hold specialist, Nitesh Kumar made his debut back in Season 5 under Future Kabaddi Heroes program.
The ankle hold specialist, Nitesh Kumar made his debut back in Season 5 under Future Kabaddi Heroes program.

Right corner defender Nitesh Kumar created history in season 6 by scoring 100 tackle points, the most by any player in a single campaign. He achieved the feat in just 25 matches and was rightly retained by the Yoddha ahead of season 7.

Sachin Kumar will be supporting Nitesh Kumar from the left corner after being retained by the team as well. Nitesh Kumar is an ankle hold specialist who emerged as one of the defensive pillars of UP Yoddha’s defense. Sachin Kumar, similarly, can execute dives and provide decent support to the other corner defender.

Aashish Nagar (right) and Sumit (left) are the other corner defenders in the squad. Since they do not have enough experience as prominent defenders, the pressure will remain upon Nitesh and Sachin to perform consistently without any injury threats.

Amit (left cover) and Narender (right cover) as cover defenders performed up to the mark for UP Yoddha last season. While Jeeva Kumar had been struggling with injury issues, these defenders stepped up and supported the team’s defense pretty well. They will look to once again continue their consistency for the team. Ashu Singh (right cover) will be the other choice for the team.

Mohsen Maghsoudlu is an exciting addition to the UP Yoddha line-up.
Mohsen Maghsoudlu is an exciting addition to the UP Yoddha line-up.

UP Yoddha added Mohsen Maghsodlujafari’s all-round skill to the roster. He is capable of providing support as a right cover defender at times and can get used as a do or die raider when required. He will be a super substitution choice for team management.

Akram Shaikh and Gurdeep are attacking all-rounders in the squad. While Sachin Kumar can also contribute on the raiding front, Narender will be the permanent right cover defender for the team.

One of the threats to UP Yoddha will be their lack of depth in both offensive and defensive department. The starting seven are bound to play all league stage matches despite having threats of injuries or lack of form. It could hurt the team because of a 3-month lengthy tournament in Pro Kabaddi.

UP Yoddha will have to ensure their prime players remain fit while the benched players will have to step up to relieve the pressure off the main ones as their role will be crucial for UP Yoddha’s performance in the road to playoffs.

Probable Starting 7 for UP Yoddha:

Nitesh Kumar (Right Corner), Monu Goyat (Right In), Narender (Right Cover), Rishank Devadiga (Center), Amit (Left Cover), Shrikant Jadhav (Left In) and Sachin Kumar (Left Corner)

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