Pro Kabaddi PKL 8: Puneri Paltan's play-off hopes take a hit; Gujarat Giants stays alive; Dabang Delhi guaranteed semifinal spot

While already knocked out Bengal Warriors damaged Puneri Paltan's play-off chances with a seven-point win, Gujarat Giants didn't allow any such thing to happen and stayed on track by beating Tamil Thalaivas 43-33.

Bengal Warriors captain Maninder Singh tries to escape the Puneri Paltan defence during a raid in the Pro Kabaddi League 8 match in Bengaluru on Friday.   -  PKL

Bengal Warriors made a remarkable comeback in the second half to beat Puneri Paltan 43-36. The Season 7 champion was trailing by 10 points at halftime but overcame that margin to beat Pune which is fighting for a playoffs spot. Maninder Singh scored a Super 10 (11 points) for Bengal while Mohit Goyat was the top-scorer for Pune with 15 points. With 61 points in 21 matches, Pune will now need to win its final day encounter against Jaipur Pink Panthers to clinch a playoff spot.

RELATED| Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Bengal Warriors makes stunning comeback to beat Puneri Paltan 43-36, Maninder stars with Super 10

Puneri Paltan dominated the first half with raiders Mohit Goyat and Aslam Inamdar doing the bulk of the work. Bengal’s experienced defence had no answers for the skilled Pune raiders who picked easy points. Mohit Goyat’s five-point raid in the fifth minute gave Pune its first ALL OUT of the match. That opened an eight-point lead and allowed the Pune raiders to slow down the match. A few mistakes from the defence helped Bengal slowly pick points. Nitin Tomar then joined the raiding attack and contributed with valuable points for Pune. It almost seemed like a practice match with Bengal offering very little resistance. The first half ended with the score 20-10.

In a team that's coached by the iconic Anup Kumar and features established stars such as Nitin Tomar, Rahul Chaudhari and Vishal Bharadwaj, one youngster has come come along and stolen the limelight - Aslam Inamdar. The young raider hailing from Taklibhan in Maharashtra has made coaches and fans turn around and take notice of his aptitude for the game and stunning skill set. From braving a broken leg to dealing with a tough financial situation at home, Aslam has overcome adversities aplenty to pursue his dream of becoming a professional kabaddi player.

Aslam is the first guest in Sportstar's special series - the Future Kings of Kabaddi.

 

Bengal Warriors reminded everyone of its quality in the early minutes of the second half. Maninder Singh started picking up raids points while at the other end Mohammad Nabibakhsh clinched a stunning Super Tackle. They also ensured Pune’s top raiders were sent to the bench. The score was 27-24 in favour of Pune with 10 minutes remaining.

Sanket Sawant and Sombir clinched Super Tackles for Pune but it eventually succumbed to an All Out with five minutes remaining in the match. That gave Bengal the lead for the first time in the match. Pune once again levelled the match with Mohit picking up crucial raid points. The score was 32-32 with three minutes to the final whistle. Maninder Singh and Mohit Goyat picked up their Super 10s in the process.

But with two minutes remaining Rohit clinched a three-point Super Raid to shift the balance once again to Bengal’s side. Sukesh Hedge followed that with another three-point Super Raid for Bengal to reduce Pune to just one player on the mat. The Warriors used that momentum to inflict a last-minute All Out on Paltan and win the match by a seven-point margin.

- Dabang Delhi beats Telugu Titans in dead rubber -

A collective effort from Dabang Delhi K.C. helped it beat Telugu Titans 40-32. With the second-place finish already confirmed, Delhi was relaxed on the mat and gave its youngsters a chance to experience the limelight. The likes of Neeraj Narwal and Manjeet had a great outing and ensured the Titans never really had a chance to cause an upset. Titans’ disappointing season came to an end with just one win in 22 matches. Ankit Beniwal scored 10 points for the Titans which will now need to rebuild the squad in the summer.

RELATED| Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Dabang Delhi beats Telugu Titans 40-32, qualifies for semis

Telugu Titans started the match on the front foot with its raiders Rajnish, Adarsh and Ankit Beniwal chipping in with points. They had Delhi down to three men on the mat by the 5th minute but Manjeet Chhillar produced a Super Tackle to kickstart a Delhi comeback. Raider Ashu Malik and all-rounder Vijay found errors in the Telugu defence with a few pacy raids. Delhi played with the confidence of a side guaranteed of a top-two finish in the league. And it got an All Out with two minutes to half time to widen its lead to eight points. The Titans kept trying to invoke errors from the Delhi defence despite the All Out. At the interval, the score was 19-14 in Delhi’s favour.

There was no urgency on the mat with both teams well aware of their destiny. The Titans were out of the playoff fight while at the other end Delhi knew the second  place was fixed. Young raiders Manjeet and Ashu Malik carried out the attacks for Delhi as it slowed the pace of the match. Titans' left- corner Muhammed Shiyas picked a High 5 after two Super Tackles to stop an All Out. The score was 27-20 with 10 minutes remaining.

Neeraj Narwal’s two-point raid initiated Delhi’s push for a second All Out. It eventually clinched it with five minutes remaining to once again open the lead to 10 points. Delhi’s coach Krishan Kumar Hooda made a lot of changes to his squad to preserve his top players from injuries. The players combined to ensure there were no hiccups in the final minutes.

- Gujarat Giants stays alive in play-off race -

In the final match of the evening, Gujarat Giants overcame a tough challenge posed by Tamil Thalaivas to win 43-33 and stay in contention for the play-offs.

Manpreet Singh's side started the must-win encounter slowly as the Thalaivas quickly took a 3-0 lead. Giants won the next three point to level the score and used the momentum to inflict an All Out soon. Thalaivas regrouped and played better to trail Giants by just three points as the score read 13-16 at half time.

RELATED | Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Gujarat Giants beats Tamil Thalaivas 43-33 in must-win match, High 5s for Sunil, Parvesh

Second half was much more action packed. Thalaivas came out all guns blazing to inflict an All Out and move ahead at 19-17 but the lead did not stay for long as soon, Giants inflicted another All Out.

From there on, the Giants maintained a healthy lead and eventually stretched it beyond Thalaivas' reach to seal five crucial points needed to stay in the race for the play-off spot.

Giants skipper Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal both scored High 5s while Mahendra Rajput led the raiding department with a Super 10.

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