IN A NIGHT OF UPSETS, Wazir Singh’s Puneri Paltan almost pulled the rug from under the feet of Telugu Titans in a clash of nerves, but had to settle for a 29-29 draw. But the result didn’t prevent the Hyderabad side from taking the pole position in the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League with 42 points in 11 matches after U Mumba’s unexpected loss to the Jaipur Pink Panthers. The three that they earned improved Pune’s position to seventh on the table with a tally of 13 points. Kolkata are now relegated to the eighth spot.
Pune had the upper hand in the first eight minutes when they inflicted an all-out against the Titans to go up 12-4. It was a Wazir super raid worth three points that set them on that path. Pravin also contributed a couple of points. But the Titans fought tooth and nail to draw level at 16-16. They did that in style by getting the rivals all-out in the 17th minute after Sukesh came up with a super three-pointer to reduce the margin from 9-15 to 12-15. Rahul Chaudhari getting caught five times in the first half forced the Titans to trail 18-20 at half-time.
If the Titans managed to salvage a draw the credit should primarily go to Sukesh Hegde. He scored 8 raid points with a bonus to boot. He came out successful in three do-or die –raids with one of them being a three point super raid. Sukesh had an able ally in all-rounder Deepak Niwas Hudda. The lanky Haryanvi lad came up with seven raiding points and had a hand in three tackles besides lending a helping hand to others. Sandeep Kandola too enhanced his reputation as a defender. The trio performed well to make up for the inability of ace raider Rahul Chaudhari. He contributed just one point in 14 raids before he was replaced.
Puneri Paltan’s captain Wazir Singh’s gallant efforts with the ever reliable Pravin Niwale brought his side close to a major upset but the pressure in the last two three minutes proved too much. A frog jump by Sukesh and a quick touch and return by Prashant Rai enabled Titans draw the match from a 25-27 deficit. Pune had an opportunity to clinch the issue after Ravi Kumar got a hold on Sukesh and Pravin got Deepak. Pravin was then caught after Prashant’s smart touch and scoot act.
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