V Ajith Kumar starred for reigning champions Jaipur Pink Panthers while Guman Singh recorded a super 10 for U Mumba as the two teams beat Patna Pirates and Tamil Thalaivas in their respective 2023-24 Pro Kabaddi League clashes on Sunday in Pune.

The three-times champions Pirates raced to an eight-point lead in the first half, but the Pink Panthers rode on a 16-point performance from Ajith – 14 in raids and two with tackles – to mount a splendid comeback for a thrilling 29-28 victory.

A successful raid from Sachin Tanwar and an effective tackle from Ankit helped the Pirates to a 2-0 lead at the fifth minute. After a few more empty raids, in what was a rather slow start, Ankit tackled Bhavani Rajput while Sandeep Kumar succeeded in a do or die raid to further extend their lead to 6-1.

Moments later, they wiped out the entire Pink Panthers team from the mat for the first all out of the match.

Trailing 3-13, Arjun Deshwal pulled off a brilliant raid for the Panthers taking out Krishan and Sajin Chandrasekar in the 18th minute but the Pirates went into the break with a 16-8 advantage.

Pirates continued to ride on the momentum in the early minutes of the second half as they reduced the Pink Panthers to just two men at the 26-minute mark. With yet another all out around the corner, Ajith stepped up.

The youngster recorded a super raid by taking out Ankit and Sandeep, but the reigning champions still trailed 15-22 with just over 10 minutes left.

Ajith then scored a tackle and raid point to help the Panthers inch closer to the Pirates’ score at 18-22 in the 31st minute. Ankush then tackled Sandeep as the Panthers reduced the gap between the two sides even more. Moments later, the Panthers inflicted an all out to level the scores at 24-24.

Thereafter, both sides played out a neck-to-neck battle and were locked at 26-26 with just 90 seconds remaining on the clock.

Ajith once again pulled off a brilliant raid to take out Neeraj Kumar and Chandrasekar and hand a three-point lead to his team at 29-26.

Thereafter, Bhavani Rajput ran down the clock on the final raid of the match and ensured that the Panthers walked off with a come-from-behind thrilling one-point victory.

Mumba rout Thalaivas

Later, a clinical all-round show from U Mumba helped them beat Tamil Thalaivas 46-33. The raiding duo of Guman Singh and Amirmohammad Zafardanesh recorded super 10s as they combined for a massive 21 points in the match for the winning outfit.

The two teams traded successful raids in the opening minutes, with neither budging an inch. But soon the contest was thrown wide open, thanks to a super raid from Singh, who went into the half-time break with 11 points from nine raids as U Mumba pocketed 20 raid points in the first 20 minutes of the match.

While Singh took the spotlight, U Mumba’s second raider Amirmohammad Zafardanesh chipped away silently and was chiefly responsible for inflicting the first all out of the match as U Mumba took a 19-9 lead. They consolidated that further, heading into the break with an 11-point lead.

While the Thalaivas stopped the flow of points briefly in the second half, U Mumba’s smart defending meant they never really got too close. Just when it seemed like U Mumba were struggling in attack, Zafardanesh came up with a super raid to increase the gap between the two teams.

That raid cascaded into a second all out as U Mumba took a commanding 40-24 lead with five minutes to play. It came down to the Thalaivas to try and cut their losses and salvage a point from the game, but U Mumba’s defence was in no mood to go soft as they clinched a massive victory.