PUNERI PALTAN fought hard against Jaipur Pink Panthers but fell short as they were beaten 30-28 in the second last match of the Nagpur leg. Prior to this game, the Deepak Hooda-led Paltans had registered wins in both their games.
Youngsters Rohit Kumar Choudary and Tushar Patil opened raids for Pune and Jaipur respectively. It was surprising to see both teams blow away umpire review calls due to hasty early decisions. After a series of unsuccessful raids, Puneri Paltan led 4-2 after the third minute. The first do-or-die raid of the match came as late as in the 9th minute for the Paltan, which Rajesh Mondal failed to capitalize.
After the 8th minute, scores were level at 6-6. The Paltans defenders looked to do a fine job in keeping Manjeet Chhillar at bay, as the Jaipur skipper spent close to seven minutes of the first half on the bench. Following a series of do-or-die raids, scores were level at 9-9 in the 15th minute. Subsequently, Jasvir Singh scored a two-point raid and Manjeet Chhillar produced some powerful body dashes to end the first half with a 11-14 lead.
Pune, who had just two men on the mat when the second half began, suffered an All-Out during Jasvir Singh’s raid and fell behind 11-17. A series of successful raids from both teams took the score line to 14-22 after five minutes into the second half. In the 30th minute, Narwal picked up a super raid for Pune in the 30th minute and kept Pune’s revival hopes alive.
However, Chhillar made full use of his experience to execute a Super Tackle on Hooda to extend Jaipur’s lead. Courtesy of a tenacious Sandeep Narwal, Paltans kept fighting hard in the final five minutes in order to close down the points gap.
Unfortunately, Narwal miscalculated his final raid and ran back after a single touch point, when he had an opportunity to touch the only two Jaipur men on the mat to effect an All-Out and equalise the game. The match ended 30-28 in Jaipur’s favour as Pune took home a bonus point.
Substitutes: Dong Gyu Kim, Kamal Kishor, Manoj Dhull, Sidharth, Navneet Gautam
Manjeet Chhillar: The Jaipur skipper had had a subdued show in their season opener against Dabang Delhi. He appeared to have lowered his work rate by scoring just a single successful tackle in the entire game. However, he bounced back to form and scored nine points against Pune. The veteran all-rounder became the first player in the league to pick 200 tackle points. Manjeet displayed tactical might as well as sheer power as he picked seven points from 10 tackles.
Sandeep Narwal: The star all-rounder kept Pune’s hopes alive till the last raid of the game. Sandeep maintained a phenomenal strike rate against Jaipur by scoring five point from six raids. Apart from bulldozing through the Panthers’ defence line, he also picked two tackle points due to his strong holds.
Deepak Hooda: The Pune skipper who is popularly known as the ‘Raiding Machine’ had a disappointing night against the Jaipur Pink Panthers. Hooda, who was expected to lead the Pune attack and rescue them during critical situations, failed to pick points from do-or-die raids. He scored just three points from 12 raids as he spent a lot of time on the bench.
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