PKL 2019: Ajay Thakur helps Thalaivas trump Fortunegiants at home, Delhi edges Pune in thriller

Ajay Thakur and Naveen Kumar starred for Tamil Thalaivas and Dabang Delhi as they pulled off victories against Gujarat Fortunegiants and Puneri Paltan respectively.

Ajay Thakur starred for the Tamil Thalaivas as it beat Gujarat Fortunegiants in its own backyard on Saturday.   -  ProKabaddi League

Once Ajay Thakur outwitted Gujarat Fortunegiants’ three-man defence and earned three points, the Tamil Thalaivas took complete control of the ProKabaddi league match at the EKA Arena by TranStadia here on Saturday.

The tie began on a strong note for the hosts with Sachin Tanwar winning a point straightaway. The towering raider made smart choices on the mat.

But the Thaliavas defence was up to the task to send him to the bench and keep him there. In Sachin’s absence, Gulia took the responsibility, but his best was not good enough to keep the Thalaivas at bay.

READ : PKL 2019 Day 19, as it happened

A seasoned campaigner in the Indian kabaddi scene, Thakur - though sent out of the mat a few times by a stoic Gujarat defence -  was the Thalaivas’s best raider with nine points.

After Thakur completed the super raid in the 38th minute - he asked for four that was rejected following a review - and defender Mohit Chhillar got into action to win a point, there was no leeway for the home team to whittle down the lead and cause a surprise in the last two minutes.

Eventually the Thalaivas won its third match of the league 34-28.

Trailing  21-24, the Giants held its nerves when Sumit Malik successfully tackled Thakur. Rohit Gulia won a raid-point and reduced the Thalaivas to just two men on the mat - Rahul Chaudhari and Vineet Sharma.

The two were easily dealt with,  the resulting all-out helping the Giants take the lead. The score line read 26-25 in favour of the home side.

Clearly the Giants were keen and eager to sustain the momentum, but Gulia - who scored nine points - was tackled by Manjeet Chhillar and thereafter came the Thakur Super Raid that completely shattered the home team and its fans who had turned up in large numbers despite heavy rains in the city.

Delhi edges past Pune in thriller

The second match on the first day of the Ahmedabad leg proved to a raider-heavy encounter, with the last raid in the final four seconds deciding the fate of the match.

Nitin Tomar made a comeback to the team, making his first appearance this season. He started well, picking up two points in successive raids.

The teams seemed evenly matched till the 3-3 mark, before Naveen Kumar decided to matters into his own hands. With a strike rate of 71.1%, he helped Delhi march into the lead and effected an early all-out on Pune.

Super-sub Pankaj Mohite stepped up for the team getting rid of corner defenders Ravinder Pahal and Joginder Narwal.

Pune took advantage of unsuccessful tackles from Delhi's Vishal Mane and Pahal Narwal. However, repeated defensive howlers did not help the former. Naveen raced to yet another Super 10.

Pune did not give up, taking the fight to the very last minute of the game. Girish Ernak and Surjeet's super tackle was a shot in the arm for the side.

With scores at 30-31 in favour of Delhi, Manjeet went in to raid for Pune's final raid. Four seconds remained on the clock and as he tried to get a point off the right corner, Manjeet stepped into the lobby before getting a touch. This unfortunate self-out handed Delhi a narrow victory.

Brief scores:

Gujarat Fortunegiants 28 (Rohit Gulia 9, Sunil Kumar 6, Sachin 5) lost to Tamil Thalaivas 34 (Ajay Thakur 9, Mohit Chhillar 5, Rahul Chaudhari 4, Manjeet Chhillar 4)

Dabang Delhi 32 (Naveen Kumar 11, Chandran Ranjit 8, Ravinder Pahal 3) beat Puneri Paltan 30 (Nitin Tomar 8, Pankaj Mohite 7, Manjeet 6)