The Jaipur Pink Panthers rode on a strong defensive display to pick up narrow 25-24 win over hosts Tamil Thalaivas at the SDAT Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. In the second match of the evening, Fazel Atrachali and Rakesh led the Gujarat Giants to a 38-30 win over the UP Yoddhas.

A low-scoring game was defined first by some brilliant defending by Pink Panthers’ Sunil Kumar and Reza Mirbagheri who put together a combined nine tackle points and three super tackles between them.

Despite having lost their home opener to the Patna Pirates on Friday, the Thalaivas were in no mood to dwell and started the game off at pace. Whether on the raid or in defence, the Thalaivas clicked in unison in the opening minutes of the game. Within the first 10 minutes, they had inflicted the first all out on the Pink Panthers to take a seven-point lead.

The first half was centred around two raiders on either side of the mat. Himanshu Narwal ran circles around the Pink Panthers, picking up seven of the eight raid points the Thalaivas picked up in the half. At the other end, Arjun Deshwal picked up all the raid points for the Pink Panthers. The Thalaivas went into the break leading 16-10.

With nothing to separate the teams in the second half, it took a do or die raid by Ajinkya Pawar to set up a second all out for the Thalaivas. The difference though was a brick-walled Pink Panthers defence who relied on super tackles to stay in the game. Each time they were up against it, the defensive pair of Sunil Kumar and Reza Mirbagheri pulled off improbable tackles to stay in the game.

And if the tackles weren’t enough, Mirbagheri went on to pull off a brilliant raid in the final three minutes to put the Pink Panthers within one point. It started a run of play where the Pink Panthers forced regular errors from the home side and went into the final 30 seconds leading by a single point. A miscalculation by the Thalaivas bench meant they erred on their final raid, setting up an easy finish to a tough game for the Pink Panthers.

Giants beat the Yoddhas

The Gujarat Giants seemed to be in a spot of bother when they were trailing at 14-19 at the end of the first half, however, raider Rakesh and captain Fazel Atrachali turned the tables in the second period and helped their team defeat Yoddhas 38-30.

Rakesh scored 14 raid points and Atrachali notched six tackle points in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 10 match.

Pardeep Narwal picked up a couple of raid points as the Yoddhas took the lead at 3-2 in the fourth minute. The Yoddhas continued to attack as Surender Gill pulled off a super raid to help his team take a decent lead at 6-2 soon after. The side from Uttar Pradesh inflicted an all out and placed themselves in a comfortable position at 11-4 in the seventh minute.

However, Sonu Jaglan effected a couple of raid points and reduced the gap between the two sides at 9-13.

The Yoddhas held the advantage at 19-14 at the end of the first half.

Rakesh and Parteek Dahiya effected raids in the opening minutes of the second half, but Nitesh Kumar pulled off a super tackle to help his team stay in the lead. However, the Giants inflicted an all out in the 29th minute to inch ahead at 23-22. Rakesh continued to pick up raid points as the Giants extended their lead at 28-24. Ravi Kumar tackled Anil Kumar to reduce the Yoddhas to just two members on the mat in the 35th minute.

Moments later, the Giants tackled Gurdeep and inflicted another all out to take complete control of the game at 31-24 in the 37th minute. Thereafter, the Giants rode on the momentum and closed out a convincing victory in the end.