Deepak Hooda racked up an impressive 17 points to lead his side, Puneri Paltan, to a thrilling 34-33 win over U. P. Yoddha on day two of the Chennai leg of Pro Kabaddi League at the Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium here on Saturday.
Riding on a four-game winning streak, the Paltans established an early three-point lead courtesy captain Hooda to take the scoreline to 5-2.
MATCH CENTRE: Puneri Paltan 34-33 U. P. Yoddha
The 23-year-old was in the thick of things yet again, as he emulated his previous effort with another three-point raid to give his side a comfortable 9-5 lead.
The Paltans held on onto its lead and finished the first half at 18-14. Hooda continued where he left off and brought up yet another splendid raid to fetch his side a crucial four points and make it 22-14.
When it looked like the Pune side would cruise to an easy win, the Yoddha's – led by ace raider Rishank Devadiga, who scored nine points in the tie – staged a terrific comeback to reduce the deficit to a mere four point and bring the scoreline to 31-27.
Captain Nitin Tomar closed the gap further and with less than three minutes to spare, the game was even at 32-all and a nail-biting finish ensued.
Yet another one of Devadiga's successful raids propelled the Yoddha's into the lead for the first time in the match as it hung on perilously to a one point advantage at 32-33.
However, a Suresh Kumar raid leveled the scores yet again with less than a minute to go, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats.
It was however the Paltans, who's defence seemed quite lax for large parts of the second half, that held its nerve to come together and successfully deny Tomar in his last raid to clinch the all-important match-winning point.
With the victory, Puneri Paltan maintained its third spot in Zone A with 57 points from 14 games.
Panthers edge out Thalaivas
The second tie of the evening saw home side Tamil Thalaivas go down 26-27 against Jaipur Pink Panthers in yet another extremely closely contested affair.
MATCH CENTRE: Jaipur Pink Panthers 27-26 Tamil Thalaivas
Spurred on by the local crowd, captain Ajay Thakur opened the scoring for the Thalaivas but it was the Panthers who dominated the half to lead 17-15 at the interval.
The Thalaivas came back strong in the second half to even the score at 20 each. However, the Jaipur side proceeded to move to a two-point lead with five minutes on the clock.
A successful raid from Pawan Kumar brought the home side back into the tie at 26-27 with less than a minute to go but the Panthers held on to its lead to triumph in a hard-fought contest.
Puneri Paltan beat U. P. Yoddha 34-33
Jaipur Pink Panthers beat Tamil Thalaivas 27-26