Pro Kabaddi Season 4: Puneri Paltan vs Telugu Titans: 3rd place play-off results
The playoff is a brutal contest that demands the players to put mind over matter. The Telugu Titans and Puneri Paltan needed to put aside any sense of gnawing disappointment at their semifinal losses to battle for third spot. The match was a keenly contested affair till one time Titan, Deepak Niwas Hooda drew the Paltan clear with a sensational three pointer in the final minute of the game. The Titans suffered another heartbreak but it was well earned consolation for the team from Pune.
Nitin Tomar put the Paltan in front with a raid point before all-rounder Deepak Niwas Hooda showed his value, taking points at both ends of the mat to put his team ahead 4-1. Local fans were gutted at the dismal loss of the Titans against the Pink Panthers, so the hosts had plenty to work on just to salvage some pride.
Down 2-6, the Titans only had Rahul Chaudhari and Sandeep Narwal. The two have been instrumental in shaping the fortunes of the Titans this season, but there was nothing they could do to prevent the Lona. At 3-10, it took a super raid from Rahul to claim three valuable points and reduce the deficit.
The reviewed raid carried Rahul past 500 raid points in the Premier Kabaddi League, underlining the prolific stars value to the Titans setup.
The Titans were down 7-14 when Joginder Narwal tackled Rahul with ease. Just when the situation was seemingly dire, Athul gave the team a fresh lease of life with a three point raid. The Titans tackled Tomar to inch closer and Rahul added another point to 13-16, still in favour of the Paltan.
At the break, the Paltan was down to one man with the score reading 14-17. The Titans wasted barely any time to come back to claim the Lona to equalize the scores. The Titans went ahead 22-19, for their first meaningful lead of the contest.
Joginder Narwal earned a raid point to stay in touch at 23-22, but Pune only had two men on the mat. It wasn’t long before the Paltan were all out for a second time, giving the Titans a handy 27-22 lead.
HT: Puneri Paltan 22-27 Telugu Titans
Obviously, the Titans had worked on their strategies during the break, turning far more effective after the break especially on the defense. There was a marked difference in the support offered to tackles as they remained ahead at 28-24.
Pune had the advantage in numbers 7-5, as the Titans continued to lead 29-26, less than eight minutes remained on the clock. A poorly timed tackle by Sandeep Dhull saw Ajay Thakur draw a point and the gap was down to one, when Nilesh Salunke was snapped up on the turn.
Deepak completed his super 10 to draw Pune level and the Titans had just two men on the mat at 29-30. Time was running out quickly, the signs turning ominous for the hosts with every ticking second. When Rahul was tackled at 30-29 in favour of Titans, it fell upon Sandeep Narwal and Somvir Shekhar to prevent another wipe out.
But yet again, Pune drew clear by four points, 34-30. Just five minutes remained as Rahul traveled again to collect his 147th point of this season. He chased Ajay Thakur down on the turn to unsettle the Puneri defence, to collect another point.
The match took a thrilling twist when both Sandeep Narwal and Ajay Thakur were both shown the yellow card with a shade less than two minutes on the clock. Rahul gave the Titans some hope with a two point raid, but Deepak responded with a three pointer immediately to keep the Paltan firmly in control.
In the end, the Pune defense proved to be the difference as they defended their third place finish from season 3 with a 40-35 victory. Pardeep Narwal and Rahul Chaudhari scored 18 points each to establish a new record for most points scored in a PKL match.
It was good consolation for Deepak, who has been an outstanding allrounder this season. Unfortunately for Rahul, it was yet another empty campaign despite his star performance. The Titans will need to look for a replacement for Sukesh Hegde, who was conspicuous by his absence for most of the campaign.
FT: Puneri Paltan 40-35 Telugu Titans