Pro Kabaddi: Puneri Paltan edges Bengal Warriors to podium finish

Puneri Paltan bounced back from its crushing defeat in the semi-finals to salvage some pride, and a podium finish, with a fighting 31-27 victory against Bengal Warriors in the play-off for third place of the Pro Kabaddi Legaue (PKL).

Puneri Paltan's Ajay Thakur raids against Bengal Warriors in the Pro Kabaddi third place play-off in New Delhi   -  Sandeep Saxena

Puneri Paltan bounced back from its crushing defeat in the semi-finals to salvage some pride, and a podium finish, with a fighting 31-27 victory against Bengal Warriors in the play-off for third place of the Pro Kabaddi Legaue (PKL) here on Saturday.

Compared to the disjointed, unsure team that turned up on Friday, this was a much-improved Pune side. There was more purpose in its raids, cohesion in its tackles and the intent was clear from the beginning. The evenly-matched contest saw Pune pull marginally ahead early on and it managed to keep its lead despite pressure from the opposition. Bengal did its best to fight back but in the end, the early losses proved costly.

Led by Deepak Hooda, who earned nine raid points for his team, Pune began cautiously. The teams stayed level till the 15th minute before all all-out effected by captain Manjeet Chillar saw Pune edge ahead to be placed 15-8 at half time.

Chillar was more reliable in the right corner defence and the second highest scorer for his team. Ajay Thakur came to the party and unlike the confused player he was in the semi-finals, he was clear in his selection of targets during raids. The team with the most compact defence in the league rode on its attack to victory.

For Bengal, Korean Jang Kun Lee was the anchor who kept his team afloat. Not only did Jang go all out to score – which he did almost every time he stepped across the line – he also kept his team pepped up all through with his energy. He was also part of a two-man super tackle that saw the team close the gap in the final minute of play to within four points.

Chillar's opposite number Nilesh Shinde was less effective in the same position and that made all the difference in a match that could have gone either way. Bengal, despite Lee's efforts, saw time run out in the end.

Result

Third place play-off: Puneri Paltan 31 (Deepak Nivas Hooda 9, Manjeet Chillar 6) bt Bengal Warriors 27 (Jang Kun Lee 9, Mahendra Rajput 5).