PKL: Patna wins a nail-biting title clash

Tied 28-28 till the last 45 seconds, it was more about holding the nerves than anything else and Patna was the team that managed to do that.

Patna Pirates is ecstatic after winning its maiden ProKabaddi League title.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Patna Pirates had struggled to break the semifinal jinx in the previous two editions of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). Having got past that hurdle, the side went all the way on Saturday, defeating defending champion U Mumba 31-28 in the dying seconds of the game to win the title at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.

Tied 28-28 till the last 45 seconds, it was more about holding the nerves than anything else and Patna was the team that managed to do that. Mumba skipper Anup Kumar had kept his calm and pushed his team to fight back from an eight-point deficit at half time. He almost took his team to the title single-handedly. But his final raid, which saw him slip and go out of the play area to concede a point, made the trophy slip away from his team.

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There is a reason Mumba has made it to the final in every edition of the event so far. Led by Anup (both in performance and motivation), the team regrouped after conceding a lead and kept chipping away at the opposition one point at a time.

Patna, however, had captain Manpreet Singh to thank for staying in the game. While Rohit Kumar attacked and Sandeep Narwal defended, it was Manpreet who ensured his team of youngsters did not lose control despite provocation and pressure. It helped the team take home the winner's purse of Rs 1 crore.

Earlier, in the playoff for the third spot, Puneri Paltan bounced back from its crushing semifinals and a took home a prize of Rs 30 lakhs, with a fighting 31-27 victory against Bengal Warriors.

The evenly-matched contest saw Pune taking a slender lead early on. Bengal did its best to fight back but in the end, the early losses proved costly. Deepak Nivas Hooda was the star raider for Pune and captain Manjeet Chillar stood firm in defence in the right corner to deny Bengal. The teams stayed level till the 15th minute before all all-out by Chillar helped Pune go into half time with a 15-8 lead.

For Bengal, Korean Jang Kun Lee was the anchor with his super raids and unending energy. He was also part of a two-man super tackle that saw the team close the gap in the final minute of play to within four points. Bengal captain Nilesh Shinde was less effective in the same position as Chillar and that made all the difference in a match that could have gone either way.

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