Jaipur Pink Panthers made a sensational return in the second half to tame defending champion Patna Pirates and become the first team to make it to the knockouts of the fourth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League. In a high-tempered game at the National Sports Club of India dome on Friday night, the Panthers pipped 29-22.
At the break, Pirates enjoyed a slender 11-9 advantage and was looking good to regain the lead in the points table. But thanks to raider Ajay Kumar’s breathtaking legwork in the opposition court and Amit Hooda’s wonderful defence, the Panthers ran away with the second half.
The stunning show in the second half gave owner Abhishek Bachchan plenty of reasons to rejoice, however, the scene inside the arena was far from being jovial. With referee Jitesh Shirwadkar and umpires Krishanlal and Rambir Singh having an off day, both the teams were involved in ugly spats quite frequently all through the second half.
The rising temper also resulted in raising the quality of play of the Panthers. The Pirates wilted under Ajay Kumar’s onslaught. The Services player, featuring in his maiden Pro Kabaddi season, made use of each of the do-or-die raid in the latter half to help his team run away with the game. In the dying minutes, Pirates got the points difference down to seven and earn one point.
Bengal Warriors played a perfect spoilsport to dent host U Mumba’s hopes of making its fourth successive semifinal appearance. Warriors exhibited an all-rounder performance to convert Anup Kumar’s men into a hapless bunch during its four-point win. U Mumba raised the tempo in the last four minutes to earn a vital point, awarded for losing by seven or less points. ( >Matchcentre )
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