Going into the final league match of the Pro Kabaddi League 8 (PKL 8), Haryana Steelers was left with no option except beating table topper Patna Pirates to qualify for the play-offs as Gujarat Giants had sealed its spot with a 36-33 win over U Mumba and Puneri Paltan's 37-30 victory against Jaipur Pink Panthers helped Bengaluru Bulls make it to the knockout stage.
Even a tie would not have been enough for the Steelers since in that situation, Paltan would have edged them on the basis of score difference.
However, it did not have to come to that as despite a valiant effort, Haryana Steelers went down 27-30 to Patna Pirates clearing the way for Paltan.
Patna Pirates, even after having already qualified for the semifinals, fielded its best side against a desperate Haryana team. Pirates started the match strongly and soon inflicted an All Out to take a 12-4 lead. The match then saw a shift in momentum as Haryana took the charge and inflicted an All Out on Patna to make it 13-15. At half-time, the Pirates lead 17-14.
Taking confidence from their first half comeback, the Steelers kept fighting right from the word go in the second half. Vikash Kandola's men did not let Pirates run away with the game, as Ram Mehar Singh's side has so often done this season, and eventually made it 27-27 with a minute left on the clock.
Vikash Kandola went in for the most important raid of Haryana's season but a stunning Super Tackle by Shubham Shinde followed by another tackle on Ashish by Mohammadreza Shadloui ended Steelers' campaign.
- Puneri Paltan's 37-30 win over Jaipur Pink Panthers helps Bengaluru Bulls qualify -
Mohit Goyat and Aslam Inamdar once again showed why they are regarded amongst the best young talent in Kabaddi by helping Puneri Paltan beat Jaipur Pink Panthers 37-30. Mohit Goyat (14 points) and Aslam Inamdar (11 points) ensured Jaipur had no opportunity to make a comeback despite Arjun Deshwal’s best efforts.
The Panthers’ raider scored 18 points but found very little support from his teammates. Both teams entered the mat with a possibility of securing a playoff spot – Jaipur needed a win while Pune needed a victory with a points difference of 28+. In the end, both teams couldn’t confirm a place till the other two matches of the evening were done. The biggest winner from the result of the match between Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan was in fact Bengaluru Bulls which secured a place in the eliminators.
The pre-match build-up was all about the battle between star raiders Arjun Deshwal and Mohit Goyat. But they had a slow start as the defences dominated the early minutes. Jaipur’s Brijendra Singh was exceptional as the team opened a three-point lead. But Pune slowly staged a comeback with Aslam Inamdar finding errors in the Jaipur defence. The match opened up after the first 10 minutes.
With Arjun Deshwal in the dugout, Pune sensed an opportunity to push for a healthy advantage. Mohit Goyat got into the act – a clever side-dubki drawing a point from Sandeep Dhull in a Super Tackle situation - as Pune clinched an All Out in the 16th minute to open a four-point lead. They continued to control the pace of the match and widened the lead to seven points by halftime (18-11).
Pune got its second All Out in the first move of the second half. Aslam Inamdar then followed it with a three-point Super Raid with a fabulous dubki. That gave Paltan a 13-point lead but Arjun Deshwal found his rhythm on the mat. He picked his Super 10 in the seventh minute after the restart and reduced Pune’s lead to 10 points by the 10th minute.
Aslam Inamdar secured his Super 10 while at the other end Arjun Deshwal kept picking up the points. Deepak Hooda’s absence from the line-up meant Jaipur was overly reliant on Arjun for the raid points. Mohit Goyat showed his all-rounder abilities by initiating a Super Tackle on Arjun Deshwal with six minutes remaining. But substitute Naveen came to Jaipur’s rescue with an important touchpoint that revived Arjun immediately. Pune’s lead was 11 points with five minutes remaining but Jaipur could smell the possibility of an All Out.
The Panthers inflicted that All Out with three minutes remaining to slash Paltan’s lead to just five points. Mohit Goyat then produced a stunning tackle on Arjun Deshwal to send him to the bench and Aslam followed it with a successful raid by touching Sandeep Dhull. That helped Pune open a lead and win with a margin of seven points.
- Gujarat Giants beats U Mumba to qualify for play-offs -
A collective performance helped Gujarat Giants beat U Mumba 36-33. The victory on the final day of the league stages helped the Giants seal a place in the playoffs and in the process knock out Jaipur Pink Panthers. Raider Rakesh S was the star for two-time finalist Gujarat. He scored a Super 10 (13 points) and ensured the Giants had an early lead in the match. The experienced defence then guarded the team to secure an important victory.
U Mumba ended its hot-and-cold campaign with a defeat and will probably need to add more firepower to the squad in the summer. Its raider Ajith Kumar did however pick up a Super 10 (11 points) in the match.
Coach Manpreet Singh’s men knew a win could secure a playoff spot and started the match with positive intent. Their raider Rakesh S was in red-hot form as he consistently found errors in Mumbai's defence that looked low on confidence. The Mumbai team had clearly been deflated by its poor campaign and Gujarat looked to take advantage by pushing for an early lead. It got its first All Out in the seventh minute when Rakesh clinched a two-point raid (+2 for ALL OUT). That made the scores 10-4 and despite Shivam’s best efforts in the raids, Mumbai could not close the gap.Rakesh picked his Super 10 in the final minute of the first half that ended 19-14.
Gujarat clinched another All Out in the first move of the second half to open a nine-point lead. Ajith Kumar added a few points for U Mumba but the team lacked the usual desire on the mat allowing Gujarat to sustain its lead. Fazel Atrachali, usually a lively character dishing out plans to his teammates, was quiet as he watched the game unfold. He did however produce a stunning tackle on Mahendra Rajput in the 10th minute to remind the world of his limitless abilities. Shivam then scored a two-point raid to reduce Gujarat to just two men on the mat.
Ajith completed the clean-up act with a 2+2 point raid after the Time Out to make it a four-point match. He also picked up his Super 10 for Mumbai as it sensed a possible comeback. But the Gujarat defence kept calm in the final minutes to clinch a win.