PKL 2018: Puneri Paltan inflicts defeat on Haryana Steelers

Puneri Paltan notched its first win of Pro Kabaddi League 2018 while Thalaivas' comeback was foiled by UP Yoddha.

Nitin Tomar during a raid against Haryana Steelers.   -  R. Ragu

Lack of an experienced and proven raider like Monu Goyat cost Haryana Steelers dearly as it lost 22-34 to Puneri Paltan in a Zone A match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.

Monu Goyat, who was the most expensive buy in the Pro Kabaddi League auction, was declared unfit to play ahead of the match. Things went from bad to worse for Haryana Steelers when its captain Surender Nada was taken out of the game injured in the final minute.

As it happened

It was a cautious start to the first half. Neither team seemed to be in a hurry to score quick points. For most part of the half, the scores were either level or had one of the teams leading narrowly. Paltan’s raiders led by Deepak Dahiya and GB More made sure the team wasn’t overly reliant on Nitin Tomar who scored 15 points in the first match against U Mumba.

In the 18th minute, Paltan found the breakthrough when it meted out an all-out on the Steelers, going 13-8 up. At the end of first half, Puneri Paltan led 15-9.

For the entire duration of the second half, the Steelers were playing catch up. Mistakes in defence and poor raiding cost the team dearly and left its captain Nada visibly annoyed. Steelers' Vikash Khandola picked up eight raid points and that was all the support the team, which sorely missed Monu’s exploits in attack, got.

UP Yoddha halts Thalaivas' comeback

It looked like the fate was clear for Tamil Thalaivas after a disastrous first-half. A stunning show in the second half took UP Yoddha completely by surprise and gave the Chennai crowd a glimmer of hope. But the Yoddha managed to halt a comeback from the Thalaivas and won the Zone B match 37-32.

All out even before scoring its first point, the first-half was nothing short of a trainwreck for the Thalaivas. Ajay Thakur and fellow raiders were unable to replicate their form from the first game against Patna Pirates. In fact, the whole team looked a shadow of the team that convincingly defeated the defending champion. Manjeet Chillar and Amit Hooda were helpless in defense too, going into the break trailing 18-4.  

But neither the crowd nor Yoddha were expecting what came next. Athul MS gave Tamil Thalaivas the much needed momentum in the second half. After going 25-6 down, Athul scored five successive raid points, raising the spirits in the stadium and among the team. When the seven men regrouped after inflicting an all out on Yoddha, they looked a charged unit. Thakur, with the help of Manjeet directing the defence, led the comeback.

Yoddha started to really feel the heat when the Thalaivas meted out another all-out. With just over a minute to go and the score at 31-33, the teams went into a time-out. The Thalaivas' momentum was expected to help it complete the comeback. But a total communication breakdown in the final stages proved dear. Jasvir Singh and Thakur stepped into the opponent side of court at the same time and gave away a technical point, shifting momentum. Yoddha decided to sit on the lead and saw the clock down, edging the exciting contest 37-32.