Jaipur Pink Panthers: Road to Star Sports Pro Kabaddi Season 4 final
As Jaipur heard the final whistle on Friday, there was a sense of relief among the players and owner, Abhishek Bachchan. They had not only beaten the most attack-minded side in the league- Telugu Titans, but completely dismantled them. Go back thirty days and things looked far from perfect for the men in pink. They got off to the worst possible start – winning just two of their first five matches.
As chatter of the strongest teams in the league, continued to grow – Jaipur were never part of the conversation. Frustration and hesitancy engulfed the team. They ended up losing to U Mumba, Pune, drew against an average Bengaluru side while Jasvir found it difficult to get the best out of this revamped squad.
But in Kabaddi, tides can change every so quickly. The moment that drifted them towards greener pastures? A monstrous 51-26 win against Dabang Delhi in Hyderabad. They followed that up by beating favourites, Patna at the reigning champions’ home ground. A win that would have given them tremendous confidence, given the circumstances.
Truth to be told, the Pink Panthers haven’t been the most consistent side in the league. Far from it. It’s their persistence and working as a team in unison, which has helped them overcome daunting hurdles. If they’re not the steadiest, Jaipur have by far been the most cohesive side. No single individual has carried them through.
We’ve gotten to witness a complete all-round performance. If Jasvir had a bad day, up stepped the unheralded, Ajay Kumar. The 22-year-old has picked up 60 raid points so far. A large chunk of them have been from do or die raids - something that he thrives on.
To truly point out the versatility of this side, one must go back to Jaipur’s match against the side they will face on Sunday. Jasvir was absent that night due to a niggling injury. It was a crunch match against the Pirates. Up stepped Shabeer Bappu. Not with his raids, but with his tackles. He picked up six tackle points. It was a sight to behold. Never had we seen Shabeer showcase his defensive abilities, that too with such precision.
Amit Hooda brings defensive solidity to Jaipur Pink Panthers
While the likes of Ajay Kumar and Rajesh Narwal have aided Jasvir in attack. It’s the Jaipur defence that has considerably improved from the past two seasons. Amit Hooda and Ran Singh have formed a potent partnership. The former leads the defending leader board alongside Fazel with an impressive 44 tackles to his name. The 20-year-old has caught the eye of millions with his aggressive approach.
Few have been better at the right corner than Amit. This side’s defensive solidity is particularly noteworthy. Throughout the league stage, they made every single raider work extremely hard for their points.
The road to the final has been far from perfect for the Pink Panthers. It’s been filled with hurdles, potholes and inconsistency. But within all this, they’ve managed to peak at the right moments. They’ve beaten Patna twice, got the better of the Telugu Titans on 2 out of three occasions. After suffering an embarrassing loss to Bengal, on match day 38, they came out victorious against Puneri Paltan.
With the odds stacked slightly against them, the Panthers will head into Sunday’s final knowing very well, they possess ammunition, dangerous enough to take out even a stellar Patna side.
The final is scheduled to take place at 9 pm on 31st July, 2016 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.