In a match that went down to the wire, Haryana Steelers rode on Vikash Kandola’s heroics to triumph over Fazel Atrachali’s U Mumba 30-27 in Monday’s first Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
Honours in the first ten minutes were shared, but then the momentum shifted to the Steelers as Mumba struggled to win points. Mumba’s Arjun Deshwal got the side off to a strong start with two successful raids, including a ‘Super Raid’ that fetched his team four points as opposed to Haryana’s one. However, Kandola, who bagged six raid points in the first half, responded with a ‘Super Raid’ to restore parity.
Raiders from both the sides ensured that the scoreboard kept ticking. The turning point of the match arrived in the 11th minute when Sunil floored Rohit Baliyan to level the scores at 8-8. From then on, it was a somewhat one-sided affair with Kandola making merry, eventually getting the better of Surinder Singh and Atrachali to inflict the first all-out on U Mumba.
With the pressure mounting, errors began to creep into the Mumbai-based team’s gameplay with Deshwal conceding two points. Haryana, meanwhile, walked into the break with an eight-point lead. The defensive trio of of Surinder, Narwal and Atrachali could only manage to score three points off the first twenty.
The drought of points, that lasted for over 12 minutes, was finally brought to end by Abhishek Singh, who bagged a bonus point in a ‘Do-or-Die’ raid.
U Mumba’s start to the second half mirrored its first, except this time, it was able to contain Kandola to great effect. Mumbai’s defence found its mojo in the second half as the side slowly clawed its way back into the game. Trailing by two points at 16-18, it was the perfect moment for U Mumba to bundle its opposition out and seal the game. But, Chand Singh single-handedly kept Fazel’s men at bay to keep the side in the game.
An ‘All Out’ was finally inflicted on Haryana and U Mumba followed it with a flurry of points to reduce the point deficit to one. Just when the side looked like turning the match on its head, Kandola found his rhythm and with three crucial raid points in the last ninety seconds, he led Steelers to their fifth victory of the season.
Shrikant Jadhav and Surender Gill star as UP upsets Jaipur
Best defensive side in the league going up against a team with not the strongest of raiders, the odds were heavily in favour of a Jaipur Pink Panthers victory. But credit where it’s due, UP Yoddha punched above its weight and showed glimpses of what its raiders are capable of in a match that finished 31-24 in its favour.
Shrikant Jadhav from UP Yoddha and Deepak Niwas Hooda from Jaipur Pink Panthers began their night with two successive raid points each. While Deepak Kumar and Nitin Rawal chipped in with a couple of points for Jaipur, Jadhav was UP’s solitary scorer.
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To UP’s respite, Surender Gill rose to the occasion and put up an all-round show that ensured his team didn’t let go off the lead until 10-10. Nitin Rawal from the opposition ably supported his captain Hooda, but a Gill raid at 10-10 handed Pink Panthers its first all-out of the match as UP inched ahead with a four-point lead. Rishank Devadiga’s bonus point brought the first half to a close, with UP leading Jaipur by six points at 16-10.
The crowd was brought to its feet with a super-raid when Deepak Hooda, who looked down and out flat on the mat, muscled past Amit, Nitesh Kumar, Ashu Singh to cross the mid-line and bridge the trail to three points.
Mohsen Maghsoudlou was brought on as a substitute and that added to Jaipur’s woes. With ‘Super Tackle’ on, Ajinkya Pawar ensure his team maintained a hefty lead at 20-14. On the other hand, Jaipur’s star defenders Sunil Siddhgavali and Sandeep Dhull were kept quiet as things went from bad to worse for the table-topper.
UP Yoddha’s scoreboard pressure paved the way to a convincing seven-point victory as Jaipur succumbed to its second defeat of the season.