Former champions Jaipur Pink Panthers walked away with a 33-26 victory over the Puneri Paltan 33-25 at the TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad on Saturday to move up to the third spot in the Pro Kabaddi standings.

Captain Deepak Niwas Hooda was once again the star for the Pink Panthers, picking nine raid points and marshalling his troops well throughout the match.

The game saw a quick start with Nitin Tomar securing a bonus point for the Maharashtra side. But Deepak Hooda scored a raid point immediately for the Panthers with his signature hand touch and in the process sent Paltan’s star raider Tomar to the bench.

Paltan struggled from thereon, making too many blunders in defence resulting in a high frequency of successful raids for the Pink Panthers. The season one champions secured their first all-out of the match in the 16th minute to strengthen their grip on the match. Things weren’t too different after restart for the Paltans after a raid by Deepak Hooda sent their defenders Girish Ernak and Shubham Shinde on the bench. The half ended with a healthy 6-point lead for the Jaipur Pink Panthers (17-11).

Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Vishal, Sandeep Dhull and Amit Hooda matched their raiders scoring 11 points among themselves. The Panthers clinched their second all-out eleven minutes into the second half, helping them build a 13-point lead with 5 minutes remaining. The Panthers comfortably closed the victory, their fifth in six matches.

Hooda was delighted with the team’s cohesive effort in the game that helped them overcome the stiff challenge from Puneri Paltan. “In today’s match, our entire team performed to the fullest. We executed our game plan exactly the way we wanted it - when the defenders and the raiders both give their 100% into the game, the result is always positive,” he said after the game.

Puneri Paltan coach Anup Kumar lamented the team’s defence which according to him cost his side the match. “We had a good raiding side today. However, we lost today’s match only because of the defence which was very weak. We will work on our shortcomings and come back stronger in the next game. There’s enough to introspect for now,” he analysed.