Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4: In Mumbai, Pune find a home away from home
The last minute decision to not have a Pune leg of the tournament has proved lucky for Puneri Paltan
Puneri Paltan, a team that had forgettable first two seasons in Pro Kabaddi, looks to have finally found their mojo. The team finished third last season and have begun Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4 on a strong note by bagging two wins out of three. After having seen off Telugu Titans’ challenge in a close first match of the season, the men in orange stunned everybody with their superlative performance against the 2nd season winners U Mumba, which they won 41-19.
However, they were caught against defending champions Patna Pirates, who continued from where they had left off in the third season, beating Puneri Paltan 30-24 to get their campaign up and running. Puneri Paltan will not be really disappointed with that loss and would want to finish their “home” leg on a strong note with a victory over Dabang Delhi, who lost their first match to Bengal Warriors
Before the match against U Mumba, not many would have given Puneri Paltan a chance to beat the most consistent team in Pro Kabaddi history. In the 6 Maharashtra derby between these teams, never did Puneri Paltan manage to come out on top. Besides, they were facing U Mumba at Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium, which can be easily labelled as the home team’s fortress as they have never lost a league game at home and out of the 17 times they have played in front of their home crowds, only once they’ve been upstaged.
If not anything, U Mumba’s stellar reputation is enough to push teams a little on the backfoot. But all talks of reputation and home advantage came to naught as the actual home team stumbled to its biggest defeat in the history of the tournament. It also ended up conceding the bragging rights of an unbeaten streak in the Maharashtra derby
For Pune home has never been too sweet. The team has managed just three wins out of their twelve outings at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Shivaji Complex in Pune with a win percentage of a measly 25%. And had it not been for a celebration to be organised marking the first anniversary of smart city mission in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to take part, they could had been facing U Mumba in Pune.
But the eleventh hour shifting of the first leg of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi from Pune to Mumbai might have proved to be the blessing in disguise they needed. Mumbai is now Pune’s home ground this season as well. While its too early to jump the gun, but in their first two games Puneri Paltan look to have turned a corner. The addition of Ravinder Pahal and Joginder Narwal has considerably strengthened what used to be their weak link last season – the defence.
Ajay Thakur, the lanky raider, from Himachal Pradesh who has made heads turn with his raids, specially in Sunday’s match against U Mumba, where such was the ferocity of the raids inflicted by him and Manjeet Chillar that the U Mumba outifit was all out twice within the first 10 minutes. Thakur performance drew praise from opposition skipper Anup Kumar as well.
The team has started off on a strong note in Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4, and call it serendipity or whatever you want, but they would like to make full use of their time in Mumbai, which has already yielded two wins out of three. They would like to end their apparent home leg with a victory over a Dabang Delhi side that looked out of sorts against Bengal Warriors.