A defeat in the final league stage game of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 Season 2 against Kolkata Thunderbolts forced Ahmedabad Defenders to settle for second place in the standings.

This meant the Muthusamy Appavu-led team are now scheduled to take on a strong Calicut Heroes side in the second semi-final of the season.

It must be noted that the two teams have already played against one another in the league. On February 20, Danial Moatazedi inspired Ahmedabad to a narrow 3-2 win. In what could be termed a real see-saw game, the Defenders bagged the first set only for Calicut to bring the score back on level terms.

The nervousness among players only grew in the third and the fourth set, but Moatazedi’s influence proved to be the key as his side walked out 15-11 victorious in the final round to win the match.

Now that the teams are about to cross paths once again, here we look at three key battles that are certain to play a big role on Saturday.

Angamuthu Ramaswamy vs Vinith Jerome

Ahmedabad Defenders’ Angamuthu Ramaswamy put on a marvellous display against Calicut Heroes the last time these two sides met. In fact, the 28-year-old was one of the three Ahmedabad players who hit double figures on the night.

Such was Ahmedabad’s brilliance that Calicut’s main man Vinith Jerome could only score a mere eight points. Come Saturday, 30-year-old Jerome will want to add points to his tally but this time with a different approach altogether.

Danial Moatazedi vs M Ashwin Raj

Danial Moatazedi, who was named the RuPay Player of the Match in Ahmedabad’s win over Calicut, tallied an impressive 14 points, with only Jose Sandoval from the opposition managing to match the figures. On March 4, the Iranian prince, as he is often called by his fans, will look to negate the effect of Calicut’s M Ashwin Raj.

By now, it’s pretty evident that Ashwin has been his side’s silent guardian. The 24-year-old attacker has accumulated 60 points this season, eight of which were gathered against Ahmedabad. With a success rate of 50.52 percent in attack, he is certain to pose a great threat and this is where Moatazedi will be required the most.

Nandagopal Subramaniyam vs Prabakaran

Nandagopal Subramaniyam’s performances for Ahmedabad Defenders have largely gone under the radar this season. The 21-year-old attacker has more often than not been overshadowed by the veterans of his team, but the fact remains that he still remains a key player for his side.

While his attacking instinct has only gotten better over the course of the season, it’s his serving that requires a special mention. To put things in perspective, Subramaniyam has tallied a joint-highest 10 points from the launch with a success rate of 15.15 percent. Throughout the season, the young attacker has only made 18 errors, which puts Calicut’s libero, Prabakaran, in a rather gruelling situation.

The 27-year-old has had a success rate of just 28.21 while receiving, having made six errors in the department, which is the most by any player (who has successfully received more than 30 serves).