Pro Kabaddi 2016, Season 4: High flying Puneri Paltan brought back down to earth
The first leg of the fourth season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi ended with a nail-biting tie between Puneri Paltan and Dabang Delhi as both the teams scored 27 points apiece and couldn’t break the deadlock when the final whistle signalled the end of the match. At the end of the first leg, Puneri Paltan, who were playing their home matches in Mumbai this season, sit atop the points table with 14 points from 4 games. However, the team’s performance graph has seen a continuous decline over the last 4 days of Kabaddi.
The team started on a solid note against the Telugu Titans in the first match of the season and looked like a champion side against three-time finalists U Mumba, but looked completely fatigued in front of defending champions Patna Pirates who gave them their first defeat of the season. The match with Dabang Delhi was a great opportunity for them to get their mojo back as the Delhi team was under pressure after losing their tie to Bengal and had shown considerable weaknesses that could have been exploited by the Puneri Paltan side.
But instead, it was the Puneri Paltan who looked in all sorts of trouble right from the beginning to concede a 5-0 lead to Delhi. The team picked up some momentum later to lead at the half-time but were still lagging behind when the last minute tackle by their skipper Manjeet Chillar helped them equalise the score. Had it not been for that last minute tackle, the team would have slumped to its second consecutive defeat and would have found difficult to come back in a tournament where initial advantage always helps.
The team’s performance over the last two days is a testament to the fact that fortunes swing wildly in Pro Kabaddi league. While at one point it looked that the team will make best use of its new base in Mumbai, as it has traditionally struggled in Pune, the team couldn’t live up to its initial promise. Manjeet Chillar and Deepak Niwas Hooda have been the stars of the team in the first leg, and it becomes imperative for others like Sonu Narwal and Ajay Thakur to perform more consistently if the team has to maintain its chances of winning the title this season.
The good news for the men in orange is that after a gruelling home leg period of four days where they had to play 4 back to back contests, they will get some much-needed rest. The team will now be seen in action on the last day of the Jaipur leg where they will take on home team Jaipur Pink Panthers in Sawai Man Singh Stadium.
The team’s past record at the stadium will also give their confidence a much-needed boost as the team has won 3 out of their 4 games there. Besides, as the team will now directly contest in the 14th game of the tournament, it will have an advantage of knowing which team stands where on the points table.
After a blazing start, Puneri Paltan will be looking forward to arresting this slide they seemed to have fallen into. The Jaipur leg gives them a good chance to start their campaign afresh.