Pro Kabaddi PKL 8: Crucial wins for Haryana Steelers, Bengaluru Bulls and Gujarat Giants in play-off race

Haryana Steelers beat U Mumba 37-26; Bengaluru Bulls got the better of Jaipur Pink Panthers in a 45-37 win and Gujarat Giants defeated UP Yoddha 38-31 to move closer to securing a play-off spot in the Pro Kabaddi League 8 (PKL 8) on Sunday.

UP Yoddha raider Pardeep Narwal tries to escape the Gujarat Giants defence during the PKL 8 on Sunday.   -  PKL

Vikash Kandola was the star for Haryana Steelers as it beat U Mumba 37-26. Vikash (14 points) and Ashish (13 points) scored Super 10s as Haryana controlled the match right from the first whistle to clinch a win that will almost guarantee a place in the playoff. With 63 points in 20 matches, it might even get a top-two finish if other results go in its favour.

U Mumba never really settled on the mat with its usually reliable captain Fazel Atrachali having a poor outing. The loss will hamper Mumbai’s chances of making it to the Season 8 eliminators.

RELATED | Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 HIGHLIGHTS: Haryana Steelers defeats U Mumba 37-26; Vikash, Ashish star with Super 10s

Haryana started the match on the front foot with their captain Vikash Kandola leading the raids. He found easy points from the Mumbai defence and their leader Fazel Atrachali. At the other end, Mumbai’s Abhishek Singh kept upsetting the rhythm of the Haryana defenders with clever hand touches. But it was Haryana’s early pressure that paid dividends when Vikash Kandola clinched a three-point raid and inflicted an All Out in the 13th minute. That opened an eight-point lead for coach Rakesh Kumar’s Steelers. But Mumbai immediately staged a comeback. Ajith Kumar also joined in the attack as Mumbai smelled an All Out. Ashish however delayed Mumbai’s march with a few clever raid points. The first half ended before Mumbai could clinch it with the scores 13-18 and Haryana in the lead.

U Mumba finally got the All Out in the first minute of the second half to make it a two-point match. Ajith Kumar and Abhishek Singh kept picking up the points as Mumbai kept piling the pressure on Haryana. But they answered in kind with Ashish aiding Vikash Kandola in the raids. The scores were 24-22 in favour of the Steelers with 10 minutes on the clock.

Haryana’s defence improved its game after the Time Out. Left corner defender Surender Nada was at the heart of all the tackles as they once again opened a healthy six-point lead. Raider Vikash Kandola also worked his magic at the other end to clinch a Super 10. The scores were 29-23 with less than five minutes remaining. Coach Rakesh Kumar asked his Haryana team to slow down the match in the final minutes but his men kept picking points at will. They got another All Out with a minute remaining to widen the lead to nine points. They added more points to end the match with a comfortable 11-point margin.

- Bharat, Pawan power Bengaluru Bulls past Jaipur Pink Panthers -

Raiders Bharat and Pawan Sehrawat helped Bengaluru Bulls beat Jaipur Pink Panthers 45-37. Both, Bharat (15 points) and Pawan (10) scored Super 10s as the Bulls clinched an important victory in their fight for a Playoff spot. Jaipur dominated the early stages of the match, but a series of multi-point raids by Bharat helped Bengaluru stage a comeback. The eight-point margin of the loss means Jaipur didn’t get a single point in their Playoff race. Arjun Deshwal was the lone star for Jaipur with another Super 10 (16 points).

RELATED | Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Bengaluru bulls beats Jaipur Pink Panthers 45-37, Super 10s for Pawan Sehrawat, Bharat

Jaipur started the match on the front foot with their defence opting for an aggressive stance. Sandeep Dhull tackled Bengaluru captain Pawan Sehrawat in the first raid of the game to set the tempo for his side. The Panthers raced to a lead and got close to an All Out by the 10th minute. But Bulls' defender Jaideep clinched a Super Tackle to keep his team alive on the mat. Pawan Sehrawat’s two-point raid then initiated a mini-revival, but at the other, Arjun Deshwal kept finding easy points for Jaipur.

The Panthers eventually got their All Out in the 14th minute to open a five-point lead. But Bulls immediately staged a comeback with raider Bharat leading the way. He produced two two-point raids to completely change the balance of the match. That gave the Bulls an opportunity to inflict an All Out and they pulled it off to level the scores at 18-18. Bharat then secured a three-point Super Raid to catapult Bengaluru into the lead. The first half ended with scores 22-19 and Jaipur having just four on the mat.

Pawan Sehrawat started the second half with a two-point raid. His blitzkrieg in the early minutes gave the Bulls another All Out and improved the lead to seven points. Arjun Deshwal tried his level best to keep Jaipur in the game, picking up his Super 10 in the process. But Bengaluru had Bharat also in good form and he kept finding errors from the Panthers defence. Bharat picked his Super 10 as the Bulls sustained the pressure on Jaipur.

Arjun Deshwal stepped up a gear as Jaipur slowly initiated a comeback. He found errors in the Bulls defence while at the other end the Panthers successfully tackled Pawan and Bharat. They made it a four-point game but the Bulls’ G.B. More clinched a Super Tackle to temporarily kill Jaipur’s momentum. That proved to be decisive as the Bulls halted Jaipur’s attempt at inflicting an All Out.

The team from Bengaluru had an eight-point lead with two minutes remaining. Bharat added more raid points for the Bulls as they closed in on an important victory. Jaipur thought they had done enough to earn one point from the match, but Pawan scored a touch point in the last raid to ensure the Bulls won the match with an eight-point margin.

-Gujarat Giants defeats UP Yoddha to enter top six-

In the final match of the evening, Gujarat Giants beat UP Yoddha 38-31 to enter top six. A loss by seven points meant UP walked away with one point which could prove crucial in the race to the play-offs.

Gujarat's defence proved too strong for UP's raider as only Pardeep Narwal could clinch a Super 10 (12 raid points) while the likes of Shrikant Jadhav and Surender Gill were largely ineffective.

While Girish Ernak got a well deserved High 5( six tackle points), he was well supported by Parvesh Bhainswal and Hadi Oshtorak as Giants skipper Sunil Kumar had an off night.

RELATED | Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Gujarat Giants beats UP Yoddha 38-31, Pardeep Narwal reaches 1300 career raid points

UP Yoddha, after trailing for most of the game, finally managed to make it 30-34 in favour of the Giants with three minutes to go but a multi-point raid by Ajay Kumar followed by a Super Tackle from Soleiman Pahlevani made sure that UP could not complete the comeback.

It was a historic match nonetheless as Pardeep Narwal became the first player in PKL history to reach the milestone of 1300 career raid points.

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