After 132 gruelling league stage games, two exhilarating eliminators and two blockbuster semi-finals, it all boils down to the final of vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 9 on Saturday between Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan at the Dome, NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai.
JAIPUR WINS PKL 9, FINAL IN BRIEF
- Pune raiders fail, Nabibakhsh fights back in vain
- V Ajith Kumar finds rhythm, takes game away from Pune
- Jaipur defence dashes Pune out of the game
- Close game goes Jaipur’s way - 32-29 the scoreline
FIRST PKL TITLE AFTER NINE SEASONS FOR RAHUL CHAUDHARI
Rahul Chaudhari has been the Showman for so many seasons and despite all the raiding records he amassed, he was never able to win the league title. He finally has. When Sportstar spoke to him in season 7 back when he was with the Thalaivas, Rahul Chaudhari had said that he would only marry after winning the league title. Thalaivas had a poor season and Rahul eventually moved ahead in his personal life and to a new team - Puneri Paltan. But Anup Kumar’s Paltan couldn’t quite find the right role for him. With the Panthers, Rahul became a safety net pitching in for raids and defence.
“Today before the final, I told Rahul Chaudhari that this will be a game for you. From season 1, he has been putting in the effort to make a name for himself so this title is for him. We dedicate this to him. ”Abhishek BachchanTeam Owner, Jaipur Pink Panthers
TALKING POINTS: Jaipur, the most improved, deserving lift title
Through the ninth season, Jaipur had issues in raiding and defence and worked on each chink bit by bit to become the marauding side that it did in the last leg of the tournament. They were able to plug holes in defence and figure out support for Arjun Deshwal, two issues that plagued them throughout the first half of the season. Deserving winners of the ninth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League.
TALKING POINTS: Jaipur keeping calm to deny Puneri Paltna maiden title
Jaipur coach Sanjeev Baliyan told the boys to waste time and frustrate the Paltan side. They did just that with captain Sunil Kumar taking the onus of wasting time in the raids. In the end, it was three points too many for Pune as they fell short with the clock running out. Fazel Atrachali called this his final opportunity to win the league as captain. One hopes that isn’t true, but a remarkable Puneri Paltan campaign ends with a number of what ifs.
“Go for 30 second raids”Sanjeev Baliyan, Jaipur Pink Panthers coach
TALKING POINTS: Nabibakhsh’s super tackle keeps Pune’s hopes alive
With a crucial super tackle initiated by Nabibakhsh, Pune manages to stay in the game. However, the raiders are unable to find any points at the other end.
Arjun Deshwal has been off court for over 12 minutes.
TALKING POINTS: Pressure gets to Puneri Paltan
Puneri Paltan’s raiders have failed in the big final, often making rash decisions or stiff raids vs a potent Jaipur defence. So much so, even Fazel Atrachali ended up gifting a touch to Arjun right before the mid half timeout in the second half. Pune at this mark is six points behind Jaipur.
TALKING POINTS: Pankaj Mohite fails
With one point in 14 raids, Pankaj Mohite, who was so crucial in the semifinal against Tamil Thalaivas, fails in the big final.
TALKING POINTS: The dash has not worked for Puneri Paltan
The right cover has been leaking points with dashes where they’ve found themselves out of the mat. A beneficiary as a result has been V Ajith Kumar. This has also helped Arjun Deshwal gain a bit of confidence.
“ Focus on the bonus points, manage to bring down the lead”Puneri Paltan BC RameshHe believes that with points ticking away, they can pressure Jaipur on the third raid. He says the next five minutes are crucial.
IS PUNE PLAYING TO DRAW THIS GAME AND WIN ON THE TIEBREAK?
Here is the protocol put in place in case of a tied score at the end of time
* 5 raids allowed per team, five different raiders have to raid in a pre-determined order
* Both teams will field seven players on the mat
* The team which raids first in the match will raid first in the tie breaker.
* Baulk line will become the bonus line too
* No out or revival, only touch point will count
PUNE BEHIND WITH A FOUR-POINT DEFICIT WITH UNDER 10 MINUTES TO GO; JAIPUR FINDS MOMENTUM
TALKING POINTS: Arjun Deshwal, Sunil Kumar fire in the second half
After initially being wary of Fazel Atrachali, Arjun Deshwal has started capitalising on haste and impatience from that right defence of Pune. Similarly, Sunil Kumar Malik has come alive in the second half, putting in backholds and dashes to fox the Puneri Paltan raiders.
TALKING POINTS: Super sub Aditya Shinde gives Pune momentum
Aditya Shinde was brought in with Pune five points behind Jaipur. Without a raider on the mat, Fazel called in Aditya Shinde. Aditya removed the two corners - Sahul and Ankush to turn the momentum in Pune’s favour. Fazel backed that up with block on V Ajith Kumar to bring the deficit down further.
TALKING POINTS: Jaipur avoids the all out
With some good work in defence and a sprightly raid from Akash Shinde, Jaipur was reduced to three men. But the Jaipur defence pulled off a remarkable super tackle to deny Pune the chance to inflict the all out. Pune will rue the opportunity missed here.
JAIPUR STINGY IN THE ALL OUTS
TALKING POINTS: Ajith Kumar wipes out Puneri Paltan in first minute of second half - SCORE - Jaipur 18-14 Pune
Ajith Kumar jumps over the two man defence left on the mat and the defence then dashes out Aditya Shinde to inflict the all out. Pune might not complain too much given that it brings everyone back on the mat, especially Fazel Atrachali.
TALKING POINTS: Paltan raiders fail, Pune sorely missing Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat
Akash Shinde, Pankaj Mohite and Mohammad Nabibakhsh have just one raid point each to their name. The defence has done all the heavy lifting and that might not be the best strategy given V Ajith Kumar has found his rhythm. As Jaipur looks to up the temp a bit, Pune will have to dig deep to find a way to stay in this contest. Harder given Pune is on the cusp of an all-out. It’s still a two-point game though.
TALKING POINTS: Halftime analysis:
It’s been a low-scoring yet tightly contested first half in this vivo Pro Kabaddi final. Jaipur’s defence has lived up to its billing of being the best in the league while Pune has come out giving its 100 per cent particularly in the absence of Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. The defence has stepped up massively. Here is a look at how the stats look at the half time mark.
V Ajith Kumar: Once again, Puneri Paltan has managed to blunt Arjun Deshwal, but V Ajith Kumar seems to be in the form of his life. He has managed five points including the all-important touch on Fazel Atrachali. If Jaipur keeps Fazel out, Ajith will be happy to exploit that left corner for points.
Mohammad Nabibakhsh: With three tackle points and one raid point, Nabibakhsh has been the star for Pune, keeping them alive in the crunch moments. He has had no support from the famed Pune raiding bench. Pankaj Mohite, Akash Shinde need to support him should Pune want to stay in this contest.
HALFTIME SCORE: JAIPUR 14-12 PUNE
HUGE MOMENT: Ajith Kumar gets a massive touch on Fazel Atrachali
It was a moment shared between two former U Mumba men. With just over 3 minutes to go in the first half, V Ajith Kumar got a massive touch on Fazel Atrachali to send him to the bench, on a do-or-die raid no less. Fazel was left smiling at the end of it. Right after, he got a two-point raid, utilising Fazel’s absence in the left to steal two points from that side. Sanket Sawant and Gaurav Khatri. Big moment. Will the momentum turn in Jaipur’s favour? Ajith has slipped out of an ankle hold, turned and gone to the midline as the Pune defenders crowd around him, Sanket Sawant is trying to keep his hand out away from the midline, but Ajith retracts and goes over Sanket to touch the midline. Jaipur reviews for three points, but that’s ignored.
If you’re too nervous to watch the final, we’ve got you covered. Check out this interview of Fazel Atrachali where he talks about why Puneri Paltan is the happiest setup he has been a part of.
SCORE - JAIPUR 7-7 PUNE (9 minutes to go in the first half)
TALKING POINT: Puneri Paltan holds Jaipur Pink Panthers to a slow start
Jaipur Pink Panthers, ever since they’ve discovered all-round form, have liked getting off to a flying start. In this final, Pune’s defence has held the Jaipur side and plugged scoring areas. Knowing that Jaipur depends on its raiders to give it a flying start, skipper Fazel and Nabibakhsh have been operating in tandem to deny Ajith and Arjun opportunities. However, what is not working for Puneri Paltan is that their raiders are not able to take advantage of the block on the other side and score themselves. Their raiders have been kept quiet by M Abishek and the other defenders.
TALKING POINT: Pune without star duo Aslam and Mohit
Puneri Paltan will take on Jaipur Pink Panthers without two of their best raiders Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. The duo is yet to recover fully from their injuries and will sit out the all-important final.
Mohit and Aslam are nursing injuries to the ankle and knee and sat out the last few fixtures the team played in the league stage once their place in the top two was confirmed.
Aslam (138 raid points) and Mohit (120 raid points) are part of a three-pronged raiding unit - along with Akash Shinde (131 raid points) in the Paltan setup that has been one of the most coordinated and consistent in the league. No other franchise has three raiders who have scored more than 100 points in one season.
In their absence, Paltan will look to Akash, Aditya Shinde, who showed promise in the Paltan’s last match against UP Yoddhas, Pankaj Mohite and all-rounder Mohammad Nabibakhsh. The bench strength which Pune possesses will be what the Paltan banks on in this game.
Pune’s defence will also have to step up in the absence of Aslam and Mohit. Mohit has been crucial to the defence too, participating in tackles too alongside his raiding exploits. Fazel Atrachali has not been too aggressive in defence in that left corner and will need to go all out in the final.
Here’s a look at the starting seven for both teams:
Jaipur Pink Panthers: Sahul Kumar, Abhhishek KS, Sunil Kumar (C), Rahul Chaudhari, Arjun Deshwal, Reza Mirbagheri, Ankush
Puneri Paltan: Fazel Atrachali, Mohammad Nabibaksh, Gaurav Khatri, Sanket Sawant, Abhinesh Nadarajan, Pankaj Mohite, Akash Shinde
Follow the LIVE coverage of the match here: Jaipur Pink Panthers vs Puneri Paltan, Final Live, Pro Kabaddi 2022: Lineups out as Aslam, Mohit miss final
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: Puneri Paltan
- Bench strength is the best in the league - have multiple raiding options
- Defence is yet to be its fully lethal self.
- Nabibakhsh - the playoffs trump card
- Young team which is quick on its feet
- Fazel Atrachali’s experience
- Puneri Paltan will face a stiff challenge in its maiden title bid
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: Jaipur Pink Panthers
- Finished on top of the table
- Team firing on all cylinders
- League’s top raider (Arjun Deshwal) and top defender (Ankush Rathee) belong to Jaipur
- Just inflicted a heavy loss on Bengaluru Bulls to make the final
- Look primed to win their second title; Rahul Chaudhari searching for his first ever PKL title
While we’re waiting for the big final, here are some stories you can check out.
INTERVIEW: Fazel Atrachali making up for lost time, step one: PKL title bid with Puneri Paltan - READ HERE
FEATURE: Mohammad Nabibakhsh - the smiling assassin who powered Puneri Paltan and Fazel Atrachali to the Pro Kabaddi 9 final - READ HERE
Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat did not feature for Puneri Paltan due to injuries to their knee and ankle. The team has said that the duo will be available for the final. Mohit Goyat is particularly important to Puneri Paltan due to his utility in do-or-die raids.
Mohit Goyat has 35 do-or-die raid points, the fifth best in the league this season. Arjun Deshwal is also a handy raider in this situation, with 37 points in these crunch situations.
PKL 9 Final preview! Who will win season 9 of Pro Kabaddi? Squad, strengths, weakness, team analysis - We’ve discussed it all in our Pro Kabaddi League live stream. Check out the full stream below:
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH
The Final between Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan of Pro Kabaddi Season 9 game will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar from 8 PM onwards on Saturday, December 17.
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