Pro Kabaddi 2019: Deepak Hooda sizzles as Jaipur Pink Panthers beat Puneri Paltan
On a day when India marked its 73rd Independence Day, it was former VIVO Pro Kabaddi champions Jaipur Pink Panthers who walked away with a victory, beating Puneri Paltan 33-25 at a packed Eka Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad.
Captain Deepak Niwas Hooda was once again the star for the Pink Panthers, picking nine raid points and marshalling his troops well throughout the match.
The first half began with a blitzkrieg, much in sync with the tournament’s intensity, with Nitin Tomar securing a bonus point for the Maharashtra side. But Deepak Hooda, arguably the most improved Kabaddi athlete in the recent years, secured a raid point immediately for the Panthers with his signature hand touch and in the process sent Paltan's star raider Tomar to the bench.
Paltan struggled from thereon, too many blunders in defence resulting in a high frequency of successful raids for the Pink Panthers. The season one champions secured their first all-out of the match in the 16th minute and the restart wasn’t too different for the Paltans after a raid by Deepak Hooda sent both their defenders Girish Ernak and Shubham Shinde out.
The half ended with a healthy 6-point lead for the Jaipur Pink Panthers (17-11).
Anup Kumar, Coach for Puneri Paltan said, "We had a good raiding side today. However, we lost today's match only because of the defense which was very weak. We will work on our shortcomings and come back stronger in the next game. There's enough to introspect for now."
Captain for Jaipur Pink Panthers, Deepak Hooda said, "In today's match, our entire team performed to the fullest. We executed our game plan exactly the way we wanted it - when the defenders and the raiders both give their 100% into the game, the result is always positive."
Jaipur Pink Panthers’ scintillating form in the season has been largely due to the ability to work together as a unit and their raiders’ performances were matched, if not overshadowed, on Independence Day night by the defenders’ work in the match.
Vishal, Sandeep Dhull and Amit Hooda all had impressive outings in the first half and continued their good work in the second as the Panthers clinched their second all out 11 minutes into the second half.
In the end, it was a cruise for the Jaipur team, who had a 13-point lead with five minutes remaining and won by a margin of 10 points.
Nitin Tomar’s presence on the mat, three well-executed super tackles and coach Anup Kumar’s calm influence at the dugout were simply not enough for Paltan against a well-organised Panthers side who certainly lived up to the preseason billing as a favourite to win the title.
The result catapulted the Jaipur side to third in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi points table while Paltans continued to languish at the bottom.