PKL 2019: Puneri Paltan season review
Pro Kabaddi 2019 came to an end on 19th October 2019 at Ahmedabad as the Bengal Warriors lifted their first-ever PKL title with a 39-34 win over Dabang Delhi K.C.
Given that the organisers opted for the double round-robin format this year, each team played a total of 22 league stage matches, and in the end, six teams made it to the knockout stages.
Yet, for the Puneri Paltan, the season did not pan out as expected, and the string of injuries to key players apart from poor form from some big names proved to dent the team's campaign throughout. Despite Anup Kumar essaying a role of the team's coach and star players in the side such as Nitin Tomar, Surjeet Singh and Girish Ernak, the team could not put in match-winning performances.
The Puneri Paltan made a poor start to their season as they lost their first three matches by a score difference over 10 points and to add to their misery, Nitin Tomar was injured during the initial weeks of the season, which left them with new and inexperienced raiders on the mat.
Throughout the season, the Paltan could not pick up wins that saw them consistently occupying a spot in the bottom half of the points table, and at the end of the season, the Paltan finished in 10th place with just seven wins and three ties from 22 matches.
There were three big positives for the Paltan this season. One of them was the 20-year old raider Pankaj Mohite, who was consistent with his raiding in the second half of the season and in 16 matches, finished with a total of 110 points, at an average of nearly 7 points per game.
Manjeet was yet another shining light in the Paltan's campaign, as he picked up 151 points from 22 matches, and finished as his side's highest scorer this season, apart from also picking up three Super 10s and contributing with a couple of key ankle hold as well.
The third and the final takeaway for the team from Pune was the success from their home leg. Paltan won two matches and tied one of the four games they played in Pune, as the only home leg game they lost was against the Patna Pirates.
At the start of their home leg, the Paltan had eight games left for the season, but despite a good home leg, they could not do well in the remaining four games and thus finished in the bottom six.
Puneri Paltan's inability to convert their leads into wins was one of the side's major shortcomings all through the season. There were quite a few games in which Pune enjoyed a considerable lead till the 35th minute. However, in the last five minutes, the defence started leaking points and the raiders kept getting caught, and as a result, the Paltan lost a few crucial matches.
Yet another glaring issue was the form of the Paltan defenders, in particular, Girish Ernak. Ernak picked up just 35 points from 17 matches and finished the season with a tackle strike rate of just 39%. With Ernak certainly far from his best in PKL 7, the Paltan could not put up a confident show on the defensive front.
Injuries were yet another big factor that played a role in denting the Puneri Paltan's campaign, as the loss of Nitin Tomar early in the season and then Pankaj Mohite in the second half of the season did not help their cause.Published 20 Oct 2019, 17:19 IST