Puneri Paltan put up a masterclass in the Pro Kabaddi League to register an emphatic 56-29 victory over Tamil Thalaivas in Kolkata on Sunday. The win sent the Pune team to the top of the table to confirm their spot in the PKL semi-finals.
In the second match of the day, Gujarat Giants secured their place in the PKL Eliminator afterbeating Bengaluru Bulls 50-28.
Aslam Inamdar picked up a few raid points as the Paltan raced away with a six-point lead in the third minute. However, Mohammadreza Kaboudrahangi helped the Thalaivas get on board through a super tackle on Pankaj Mohite.
But Mohit Goyat effected a raid and Abinesh Nadarajan tackled Vishal Chahal as the Pune side inflicted the first all-out of the match to take a big lead at 12-2.
Mohite pulled off a brilliant raid in the 10th minute as the Paltan continued to forge ahead. Ajinkya Pawar tried to counterattack for the Thalaivas, but he couldn't find a way to breach the Puneri defence line. The Pune side inflicted another all-out and led comfortably at 28-10 at the end of the first half.
Mohit Goyat took out M. Abishek as the Pune side continued to put relentless pressure in the second half. Abinesh Nadarajan tackled Mohammadreza Kaboudrahangi and reduced the Thalaivas to just one player on the mat in the 27th minute. The Pune side rode on the momentum and inflicted another all-out soon after to attain complete control of the game at 41-14.
The Thalaivas couldn't find a way to get back into the contest for the rest of the game as the Paltan wrapped up a comprehensive victory.
Gujarat Giants confirm play-offs spot
Parteek Dahiya (13 points) and Fazel Atrachali (6 points) were the top performers for the Giants on a day of dominance.
The game came with huge implications for both sides in their race to make the play-offs, and right from the start, the Giants seized the moment to establish authority almost immediately.
Having slowly built up a small lead, they relied on the enduring brilliance of Dahiya to surge into complete dominance.
In the eighth minute of the first half, Dahiya's super raid to take out Surjeet Singh, Saurabh Nandal and Monu set up the first all-out for the Giants to take a 9-3 lead.
They did not let this momentum slip, as Dahiya kept chipping away up front while the Giants defence kept the rafters shut for the most part. A second all-out right on the edge of half-time gave them a massive 21-9 lead at the break.
The one-sided nature of the contest continued well into the second half, and soon enough the Bulls were making unforced errors of their own to gift points to the Giants. A series of them gave the Giants a third all-out early in the second half to extend into a 17 point lead.
For their part though, the Giants defence was on absolute fire, led in particular by a brilliant Atrachali, who with 10 minutes to play, had six points from six tackles for the evening.
A super raid by Nitin to take out Monu, Arulnanthababu and Amit Sheoran set up a fourth all-out, the gloss on a thoroughly dominant Giants performance that sealed their spot in the play-offs.