UP wins battle of attrition, ends home leg on a high

One of the lowest-scoring contests of the season so far, it was a battle of attrition with both sides playing a cautious game and avoiding any aggressive play.

UP Yodhha’s Rajesh Narwal and teammates pin down Farhad Rahim Milaghardan of Telugu Titans in the last match of the Lucknow leg of Pro Kabaddi League on Thursday.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

UP Yoddha broke its home ground jinx, registering a 25-23 victory against Telugu Titans in its final match on home ground of the Pro Kabaddi League here on Thursday.

One of the lowest-scoring contests of the season so far, it was a battle of attrition with both sides playing a cautious game and avoiding any aggressive play. The passiveness of the contest can be gauged from the fact that there was not a single all-out in the match. The result helped UP form its hold on to the top spot in Zone B but in a group where the difference between the top and bottom-placed sides is just 16 points, it would be a fragile lead.

Rahul Chaudhari was still the top scorer for the Titans but with just six points, it was far below his average performance. And with the captain not able to replicate his brilliant form, the Titans suffered. Its over-reliance on its captain is understandable – Chaudhari is the top raider of the season, has scored the most super raids, most successful raids and a massive four Super 10s. He is also second on the overall points table. But that over-reliance meant that every time he was neutralised, his team struggled.

UP wasn't exactly in red-hot form either. Captain Nitin Tomar was the top raider but far from dominant. Rishank Devadiga, star of the previous game, failed to score a single point and his inconsistency would concern the team. Rajesh Narwal's struggling season continued. At one point, all its key raiders barring Tomar were on the bench, leaving the onus of keeping the team active on experienced defender Jeeva Kumar.

In fact, with the margin of score between the two sides never being more than three points, it was simply about holding on to the lead whenever it came either team's way. It was Nitesh Kumar's opportunistic but firm hold on to Chaudhari, in his final raid in the last 30 seconds of the match with the scores tied on 22-all, that turned the tables in the host's favour. Tomar picked up two quick points to seal the issue and get his team's first win in seven games.

The result: UP Yoddha 25 (Nitin Tomar 6, Nitesh Kumar 5, Surender Singh 4, Jeeva Kumar 4, Mahesh Goud 3) bt Telugu Titans 23 (Rahul Chaudhari 6, Farhad Rahimi Milaghardan 4, Sombir 3, Mohsen Maghsoudloujafari 3).