Ajay Thakur seems to be making a habit of dragging his team to victory from sure defeat. For the second game in a row the Tamil Thalaivas captain scored a two-point winner at the stroke of the buzzer for a narrow 35-34 win against a dominating Gujarat Fortunegiants as the inter-zonal matches in the Pro Kabaddi League kicked off at the Thyagaraj sports complex here on Tuesday.
With a comfortable 32-23 lead and just six minutes to go, Gujarat might have felt assured of going on top of Zone A. Instead, Thakur scored eight points in the final five consecutive raids to repeat his previous performance. That win against Bengal Warriors on Sunday had kept the Thalaivas in the competition. Tuesday's victory kept it at the bottom of Zone B but propelled it closer to Telugu Titans, just one point behind having played four games less. Gujarat stayed second in Zone A, behind leader Haryana Steelers.
Thakur scored a total of 14 points and, along with the impressive K. Prapanjan, who scored nine, was the difference between the two teams, proving stronger than a combined team effort from the Gujarat side. There was little in terms of atttack from either side – Sachin, Sukesh Hegde and Chandran Ranjit combined to attack for Gujarat while Thakur and Prapanjan did the job for Thalaivas. Gujarat was slightly better in defence, courtesy the Iranian duo of Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani.
Gujarat was the first off the block and raced to a 13-6 lead with an all out in the 11th minute. It became 20-13 at half time as Thakur struggled to get going. A second all out was scored within four minutes of resumption to make the lead 27-15. With six minutes to go, Gujarat had a 10 point lead and a green card to Thakur. It was then that the experienced pro stepped up his game even as Gujarat's defence failed to find a way to put him out of action.
In another match, Zone B's bottom-placed Dabang Delhi continued to flounder, this time going down 36-34 to leader from Zone B Patna Pirates. Staying close all the while, all-out two minutes from time by Patna skipper and the competition's top raider Pardeep Narwal dashed Delhi's hopes of a first win at home.
The result: Tamil Thalaivas 35 (Ajay Thakur 14, K. Prapanjan 9) bt Gujarat Fortunegiants 34 (Sachin 11, Chandran Ranjit 5, Fazel Atrachali 5). Patna Pirates 36 (Pardeep Narwal 14, Jaideep 6, Monu Goyat 4) bt Dabang Delhi 34 (Meraj Sheykh 8, Vishal 7, Abolfazl Maghsodlou 4).
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