Pro Kabaddi: Paltan upsets Bulls, Pink Panthers retain top spot with 36 points

While an off-colour Bengaluru couldn’t stop Puneri Paltan as it raced to a 31-23 victory in the first match, Jaipur Pink Panthers kept its unbeaten record intact against the home side Tamil Thalaivas.

Nilesh Salunke scored seven raid points against Tamil Thalaivas on Wednesday. Six of those came in bonuses.

Nilesh Salunke scored seven raid points against Tamil Thalaivas on Wednesday. Six of those came in bonuses.   -  PKL Media

The home leg jinx is beginning to seem more real now. First Telugu Titans followed by Patna Pirates and Gujarat Fortunegiants and now, Tamil Thalaivas. What is with host teams not being able to get over the line before its own crowd, so far this season, is a myth yet to be decoded. After a loss and a tie, Tamil Thalaivas lost 26-28 to Jaipur Pink Panthers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and slumped to its home leg's second and season’s fourth defeat.

The much anticipated encounter, however, was full of thrills and spills. Thalaivas’ skipper, Ajay Thakur and Pink Panthers' Nilesh Salunke kicked off their nights with lightning quick raids. 

Jaipur’s star defender, Sandeep Dhull alongside Amit Hooda spearheaded the team defence with strong back holds and ankle holds on Thakur and last day’s hero V. Ajith Kumar respectively as the visitor gained a four-point advantage.

The momentum shifted towards the host when the senior members stepped up and drew back level at 6-6. Mohit Chhillar’s beast-like block on Nilesh Salunke and Vineet Sharma’s tackle on Deepak Hooda injected new life into the squad. 

Thalaivas was forced to play catch once again after Vishal and Sunil Siddhgavali executed two consecutive ‘Super Raids’ on Rahul Chaudhari and Thakur respectively. Jaipur walked into the interval with a slender lead of two points at 11-13.

As it happened

In the final 20, Thakur fell prey to another 'Super Tackle’, this time by Pavan TR, who didn’t let go off the raider’s ankle. The crowd broke into euphoria when Rahul Chaudhari scrambled past the mid-line despite having Pavan TR and Deepak Hooda clinging onto him to effect the first ‘All Out’ of the game on Jaipur and restore parity at 17-17.

Credit where it’s due, Jaipur was able to hold on to the lead consistently. Just when Thalaivas almost caught up 22-23, Jaipur’s mainstay Deepak Niwas Hooda’s raid point (courtesy a running hand touch off Chaudhari) and Vishal’s thigh hold off Ajith ensured the lead was maintained. 

Thakur was enraged with a string of seemingly wrong decisions by the officials and received a ‘Green Card’ for it. He stormed off giving an earful to anyone who came his way. That proved to be the defining moment of the match as the side couldn’t prevent the loss. 

Puneri Paltan upsets Bengaluru Bulls

Earlier in the day, An off-colour Bengaluru couldn’t stop Puneri Paltan as it raced to a 31-23 victory.

Shoulders hanging loose, jogging back to the bench reluctantly while making an apologetic gesture to his teammates after a failed raid – Pawan Sehrawat’s body language summed up the kind of night his team had. 

It was a slow start for both teams. Bulls’ Amit Sheoran and Saurabh Nandal executed strong ankle holds to contain Amit Kumar and Manjeet respectively. On the other hand, this season’s leading raider Sehrawat, failed to create an early impact after being sent to bench twice by Pune. The dubki, which is one his special moves, couldn’t help him grapple out of Surjeet’s chest hold. The Pune captain walked in with a bandaged head, courtesy an injury picked up during practice, but left no stone unturned in leading his side from the front. He was in the thick of action again with a double thigh hold on Amit Kumar. 

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Trailing at 6-4, Pawan finally managed to score his first points of the night, wrestling past Hadi Tajik’s back hold to drag himself past the mid-line.  The decisive moment of the match arrived when Jadhav Shahaji ushered Banty out of bounds with a strong block to help his side inflict the first ‘All Out’ of the match on Bengaluru and race to an 8-point lead at 19-11. Shahaji turned nemesis to Sehrawat tackling him multiple times through the remainder of the night. 

In what was the final raid of the game, Rohit Kumar overpowered from Sagar Krishna and Manjeet, but it was too little too late.