In a gripping match, Jaipur Pink Panthers came out victorious in the clash of the table-toppers against Puneri Paltan on Saturday at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Although Puneri Paltan had a huge lead of 20-11 at half-time, the Panthers clinched a thrilling 36-34 victory in the end. Arjun Deshwal was the star of the night with 16 points.

In the second match of the day, Bengal Warriors inflicted a fifth consecutive defeat on UP Yoddhas, beating them 42-37 and moved up to seventh place in the standings.

Deshwal, the season’s leading raider, kicked things off as the Panthers clinched the lead at 3-2 in the third minute. As Puneri Paltan kept things level at 5-5, Deshwal kept picking up raid points to propel the Panthers to a three-point lead at 9-6 in the ninth minute. However, the famed Puneri Paltan defence unit stood tall and kept its team in the game at 8-10 in the 12th minute.

Mohammadreza Shadloui Chiyaneh upped his game as Pune levelled the scores once again at 11-11 in the 16th minute. Pankaj Mohite pulled off a magnificent double-point raid in the 18th minute and helped Puneri Paltan inch ahead at 14-11. Moments later, the Pune side inflicted the first all-out of the game to go into half-time at 20-11.

The second half began and the Panthers came back with renewed spirit. Mohit Goyat was tackled in the opening minutes, but Shadloui continued to maintain Pune’s lead at 21-13 in the 25th minute. The turning point came when Deshwal pulled off a super raid, reducing Pune to just one player in the 29th minute. The home side then inflicted the second all-out of the game and reduced the gap to 22-23.

It was this momentum that saw the Panthers turn the game around and trouble Pune’s defence. Sloppy errors from both the Puneri defence and their raiders saw Bhavani Rajput and Deshwal take advantage and increase their lead to 28-23 in the 34th minute. Minutes later, Pune were subjected to another all-out and now the Panthers’ lead stood at 32-26.

With their eight-match winning streak at risk of breaking, the Pune side soon got back into the game and were on the verge of inflicting another all-out on the home side. In the final raid of the match, Rajput held his nerve to get one touch point and get his team over the line.

Warriors beat Yoddhas

Despite a brilliant showing from Yoddhas captain Pardeep Narwal who scored 16 points, it was the Warriors who were powered by their own captain Maninder Singh and assisted ably by Nitin Kumar to cruise to victory.

The contest quickly started off as the Yoddhas raiders vs the Warriors raiders and Singh was at the helm of it all. Nine points in the first half itself, the Warriors captain was not tackled even once. On the other side, Narwal scored seven points to keep his side in the game.

The difference was that it wasn’t only Singh doing all the work in raiding with Nitin Kumar (10 points) and Shrikanth Jadhav (4 points) also contributing. The Warriors defence was also superior to the Yoddhas in the first half and soon the first all-out of the game was inflicted on Yoddhas. This allowed the Warriors to enter half-time with a comfortable lead.

Momentum changed hands in the second half as the Yoddhas came back with a vengeance to inflict an all-out on the Warriors and reduce the deficit to 20-24. The Warriors, however, weren’t rattled and continued to capitalise on their raiding abilities to rebuild the lead.

Unfortunately, it was a one-man army where the Yoddhas were concerned with Narwal being the only raider in his team to consistently score points. However, despite limited back-up from his teammates, Narwal helped inflict a second all out on the Warriors to reduce their lead to only three points. The Warriors held their nerve and secured the victory in a high-scoring match.