Puneri Paltan, U Mumba begin campaign with wins

Home teams Puneri Paltan and U Mumba started their PKL Season 4 campaign with wins on Saturday. Captain Manjeet Chillar starred for Paltan in defence while Rakesh Kumar was the star for U Mumba.

Rahul Chaudhari of Telugu Titans is pinned by Pune Paltan defenders at the NSCI in Mumbai.   -  Vivek Bendre

Puneri Paltan opened its Prokabaddi campaign with a hard-fought victory against Telugu Titans here on Saturday. Sonu Narwal, who was declared the 'best raider of the match' and captain Manjeet Chillar, who was adjudged the 'best catcher', led the Pune-based team from the front, as it beat Titans 28-24 at the NSCI stadium in Mumbai — Paltan's home venue for the season.

>Match Centre

Titans captain Rahul Chaudhary, supported by Sandeep Narwal and Vinod Kumar, had a decent outing, but the team fell short after an early flourish. Cheered on by orange flags in the stands, the Paltans came from behind to draw level at the 18-point mark in the first half and handled the pressure well to secure crucial points. India Test skipper Virat Kohli and acting icon Amitabh Bachchan were among the audience for the match.

A massively changed squad and fresh season did not hinder the Titans, as it hit the stride early. Services player S. Mahalingam made his bow as the side's defensive tactics took it to a healthy 11-7 lead. Chaudhary and Vinod worked hard in offence and defence with four points each.

Raiders save Paltans

Paltans’, though, had no intentions on letting the lead grow and clawed its way back through some well calculated raids. Its attacking trio of Nitin Tomar, Ajay Thakur and Sonu Narwal helped the team gain a two point lead against the struggling Titans and make the score 20-18 before the last quarter.

Titans slogged hard on both sides of the mat in the final quarter. Sandeep Narwal and Vinoth Kumar returned successful from raids, while the catchers did their bit by stopping former Titan Deepak Hooda in the closing stages to reduce the deficit. But Paltans held on to their never to secure a crucuial victory at home.

U Mumba beats Pink Panthers

U Mumbai overcame Jaipur Pink Panthers in a second game thriller, winning the tie 36-34 after leading 20-12 at half-time. Rakesh Kumar excelled for the winners with nine raid points and three tackle points. The visitors were tagged out twice, against one suffered by the home side.