PATNA PIRATES EDGED defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers to win the do-or-die encounter 26-24. The result also pushed the Panthers out of contention for the play-offs paving the way for the League's last semi-finalists this season. Patna Pirates finished with 42 points while Jaipur, finished finally with 36 points.
It was a team effort by the Pirates who led 16-9- a substantial lead right from half-time. They inflicted an all-out in the 12th minute to gain an upper hand that finally proved decisive. Pirates will now take on U Mumba in the semis in Mumbai on Friday at Dome @NSCI.
Pirates had a confident start with Gurvinder getting a toe touch on Prashant Chavan and Girish Ernak getting Kuldeep Singh at the other end. But the Panthers came back to lead 4-2 as Ran Singh the man with seven tackle points today and C Arun came up with clean tackles. But the costly mistake of Jasvir stepping in the lobby cost the Panthers. Patna who grabbed the lead at that stage never relinquished it in the match.
Patna soon inflicted an all-out as the Korean Tae Deok Eom grabbed two raid points and at the other end Rajesh Narwal and Sonu Narwal were brought down in heavy tackles. Rajesh and Sonu were off-colour today. In fact both Rajesh and Sonu had three bonus points. He scored two raid points but those came too late. Patna gradually inched to a substantial lead of seven points. It was due to Gurvinder who came with a splendid ‘dubki’ or dive beneath the chain to claim two victims. Sonu and Kuldeep then both gave away a point each as they were trapped.
Any hopes that the holders had held faded away in the second half. Tae and Girish Ernak, Amit Hooda put up a tight defence. The rival raiders who were forced to go for points went in deep and paid the penalty. Girish came up with his best performance to date with five points. The most valuable of those was when he pushed Rajesh Narwal out to take the score to 25-21 and when Tae literally carried Kuldeep over his shoulders and threw him out, the match was decided. At 26-21 and just a minute or more left the door closed in on the Panthers.
It was only Ran Singh who fought till the end for Jaipur. He effected two super tackles with Kuldeep too coming up with one on Deepak Narwal. Barring a bonus point he failed to contribute to his team’s tally. Gurvinder and Sandeep Narwal who as a captain and an all-rounder did a good job, then came up with the now favoured strategy of using the full 30 seconds for a raid to kill precious time and take the match away from their opponents.