Tamil Thalaivas beat Jaipur Pink Panthers 35-33 in a closely-contested Pro Kabaddi match at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida on Monday to end a 14-game winless run in the competition.
Ajith Kumar scored a Super 10 for the Tamil Thalaivas as the team secured a victory in the penultimate match of their campaign.
Jaipur, despite having had a good start to the match succumbed to yet another defeat to end their campaign on a sad note. The season-one champions led the table at one point time in the season but a collapse in the second half of the season sees them finish in the seventh spot in the standings.
There was nothing but pride at stake in the match as both the teams had failed to qualify for the playoff stages despite pre-season billing as favourites to reach the top six.
While the Thalaivas went through an implosion, with the star players not finding the required cohesion to carry a team, Pink Panthers’ over-reliance on a Deepak Hooda backfired after the seasoned raider had a dip in form due to an illness.
Jaipur started the match on the front foot, cheered by their owner Abhishek Bachchan from the stands, and nearly clinched an all-out in the first ten minutes. But a much-changed Thalaivas had other plans and a super tackle on Deepal Narwal by Sagar in the 13th minute inspired a come-back.
Ajith Kumar, perhaps the only happy story in Thalaivas’ campaign this season, was at his usual best and the raider’s dominance yielded an all-out for the Tamil side with under two minutes of play remaining to half time. The half ended with Thalaivas leading 19-14.
Jaipur Pink Panthers got back into the match after the half-time break with their defenders cutting down on easy opportunities for opposition raiders.
Amit Hooda was particularly impressive in the left corner for the Pink Panthers, picking up a high 5, as the season one champions reduced Thalaivas’ lead to two points.
Both teams traded blows in an evenly-matched mid-section of the second half with both teams failing to convert their momentum into an all-out.
Thalaivas were sitting on a 5-point lead when Jaipur’s Guman Singh produced a 3-point raid to make the scores 31-33 with under 2 minutes remaining.
A successful super tackle on Ajith Kumar by the Pink Panthers made it an interesting game in the last minute but the Thalaivas’ defence held firm to clinch a victory.
The win keeps their hopes alive of avoiding the wooden spoon.
Fortunegiants end on a high
Gujarat Fortunegiants rallied to comprehensively beat Telugu Titans 48-38 in the earlier Pro Kabaddi match at Greater Noida on Monday.
Sonu had a great game for Gujarat Fortunegiants, scoring 17 raid points (Gujarat’s best-ever raid performance in PKL history), as the season six runners-up finished their campaign on a positive note.
Even though both the teams were out of the tournament, Telugu Titans started the match like a squad that wanted to end the tournament on a high.
Siddharth Desai had his usual near-perfect first half with a 100% success ratio in his seven raids while Rakesh Gowda also impressed in his raids.
The Titans got their first all-out of the match in the seventh minute and dominated proceedings thereafter, with Akash Choudhary particularly impressive in their defence.
The first half ended with the Titans leading 21-13.
Coach Manpreet Singh’s pep-talk at the interval must have inspired the Gujarat men as they started the second half like a transformed side.
Sonu impressed in the raids for the Fortunegiants as they secured an all-out in the second minute after the restart. Sonu picked up his Super 10 while this likes of GB More and Rohit Gulia also picked up their game.
Gujarat were able to convert their momentum to inflict another all-out on the Titans (8 minutes remaining) and take the lead for the first time.
Sonu’s impressive night got even better when he picked up a massive four-point super raid with six minutes left in the match to give Gujarat a 5-point cushion.
The season six runners-up secured another all-out with less than three minutes to open an 8-point lead which helped them seal the match.