Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League Season 4 - Delhi leg recap: U Mumba fail to make PKL semis for the first time ever
The league stage of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 4 concluded in Delhi where Telugu Titans and Puneri Paltan grabbed the remaining two semi-final berths. Both teams are seeking their first title as they join the former champions Patna Pirates and the Jaipur Pink Panthers in the knock-out rounds.
The Titans once again had their leader Rahul Chaudhari stealing the show as he guided them to wins over Patna and Jaipur. Dabang Delhi had the entire crowd support at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex that helped them run stronger teams close, but they could ultimately muster just one win.
It was the Puneri Paltan who made heads turn with the way they surged into the semi-finals while U Mumba had a forgettable Season 4 as they failed to make it through to the semis for the first time in PKL history.
Home advantage can be crucial in turning around a struggling team’s fortunes and Dabang Delhi showed that in their first assignment against the Bengal Warriors in front of their adoring fans. Kashiling Adake played a brilliant captain’s knock, which brought his team a rich 13 points.
The defenders, too, played their part beautifully to make an all-round solid team effort that demolished the Kolkata-based side 41-20.
The second match, that was supposed to be a rollicking clash between former champions Jaipur Pink Panthers and the sizzling Telugu Titans, turned out to be one-sided as Rahul Chaudhari’s unit destroyed the Panthers 35-23. The Men in Pink looked vulnerable due to the absence of Jasvir Singh and Shabeer Bappu and were totally clueless in front of the super confident Titans skipper. Rahul’s valuable 11 points on the night made the Titans the third team to qualify for the PKL Season 4 semi-finals.
On the second day, Meraj Sheykh and Kashiling Adake put in stellar performances against the Patna Pirates as each scored 11. But it was still not enough to see them through the finish line as the men in green-and-yellow edged them by a solitary point, 32-31.
The hosts, buoyed by their huge win over the Bengal Warriors, led the Pirates for the better part of the match with Pardeep Narwal being the difference-maker once more.
The Telugu Titans produced their best performance of the season in the opening match of Day 3 that witnessed the belligerent Men in Yellow pulverizing the table-toppers Patna Pirates 46-25.
The Season 3 winners rested their key players, but that should not take the credit away from this season’s leading raider, Rahul Chaudhari who amassed a staggering 13 points. Patna desperately tried to change things by bringing in Pardeep Narwal, but it proved to be a futile exercise as the Titans went on to extend their unbeaten streak to 9 matches.
Deepak Niwas Hooda & Manjeet Chhillar help Pune through to the semis
The Puneri Paltan needed something special if they wanted to be in the hunt for a semi-final berth. And they finally got it in the second match of Day 3 when they took on the home team. With captain Manjeet Chhillar returning from injury, the team looked inspired.
It got reflected in the mind-boggling show exhibited by their raider Deepak Niwas Hooda who delivered a humongous 17 points alone to take his side to a 39-34 victory. Dabang Delhi did not play bad and Adake once again stood out with his 10-point haul but it looked impossible for them to curb the confidence of the Pune unit.
Despite the win, the Puneri Paltan had a lot of pressure in their final group encounter with the Bengaluru Bulls that was the first match of the fourth day. The Rohit Kumar-guided Bulls had been on a two-match winning streak. Suffice to say facing the Season 3 MVP was not an easy job.
The third-placed team of Season 3 felt the heat initially as Manjeet Chhillar’s boys trailed and that too, by 9 points at the mid-match interval. Rohit Kumar was unstoppable and so was defender Mohit Chhillar. It was Manjeet who stole the show, though, by creating a PKL record of scoring the most tackle points in a single match when he ended the tie with 11 points in defence.
In the final match of the leg, U Mumba took on Dabang Delhi, who looked all charged up. The 2015 champions had to play for pride with their semi-final hopes having virtually ended and they ensured that the Delhi fans would have something to remember in the final match of the leg.
Much like the Pune side in the first match of the day, they too stormed back from a nine-point deficit at half-time to crush Delhi 38-34. In the second half, Bhaskaran Edacherry’s men suddenly looked rejuvenated and highly motivated and the damage control started. Rishank Devadiga and skipper Anup Kumar combined to contribute a total of 18 points that aided in the magical turnaround.
The league stage of the PKL 4 thus ends with the Patna Pirates atop the table at 52 points. The Telugu Titans are in second spot with 50 and the next two places are occupied by the Jaipur Pink Panthers and the Puneri Paltan who have 47 and 42 points respectively.
The semi-finals will see the reigning champions Pirates squaring off against Pune while the in-form Titans locking horns with Jaipur. Both matches are scheduled to be held at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on July 29.