PUNERI PALTAN missed the services of experienced defenders Girish Maruti Ernak and Ziaur Rahman but still managed to get over the line with a 34-31 victory against Dabang Delhi K.C. at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Sunday. Captain Deepak Hooda (10 points) and Rajesh Mondal (7 points) led the Pune fight and brought them back from a pressure situation to keep their hopes of topping Zone A alive.
Pune took the opportunity to give some playing time to their young players Monu and Akshay Jadhav as the duo were sent in to do the bulk of the raiding early on. However, it was their more seasoned campaigner Mondal who ultimately brought them the first points in a do-or-die raid.
Dabang Delhi K.C. were in no mood to let Pune off easy and reached an early 6-5 lead on the back of the in-form Rohit Baliyan’s quick fire raids. But Pune proved once again that they are not ones to buckle under pressure and came back with a super tackle on Iranian Abolfazl Maghsodlou.
Their resistance didn’t last very long though and they were handed their first All-Out in the 16th minute. Delhi kept their advantage from there to maintain a 14-10 lead at half time.
Pune’s attack seemed to slow down in the second half as they played mainly on defence giving Delhi the opportunity to increase their lead to 18-12. But they slowly started gaining momentum through Suresh Kumar and captain Hooda’s raids. Mondal finally managed to bring his side level at 24-24 with a 3-point super raid, reducing Delhi to one man. Pune inflicted an All-Out back on Delhi and Hooda followed it up with another super raid to put his side 30-25 ahead. Delhi kept up their fight till the end but did not have the experience to turn it in their favour. They had to end their campaign with a 34-31 loss.
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