Star Sports Pro Kabaddi: A look back at the Kolkata leg
Home side Bengal Warriors were defeated in the final match of the second leg of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi. After U Mumba wrote their name in history, winning all the 4 matches at home, the Pro Kabaadi caravan moved to Kolkata, which started with a rendition of the national anthem by former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.
The opening match of the leg was a cracker as the home side took on defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers. Despite trailing throughout the match, the Warriors won in the last minute (28-26) after brilliant defending by star man Nilesh Shinde, who executed his ankle holds to perfection against the Panthers.
The two semi-finalists of last season – Bengaluru Bulls and Patna Pirates – clashed in the second match of the day and it was the team who lost the 3rd place play-off last season who emerged victorious. Even though star raider Ajay Thakur missed the match due to injury, captain Manjeet Chhillar rallied his troops to get their second win of the tournament with a score of 31-26.
The next day, the Rahul Chaudhari-led Telugu Titans beat the home team in the dying moments of the match in the only game of the day. Deepak Nivas Hudda made sure the Titans won their second match of the tournament with a stellar display as the Warriors lost 32-30.
Warriors fail to make the most of the home support
The third day of the Kolkata leg saw the bottom two teams – Dabang Delhi and Puneri Paltan - take on each other. The Paltans were trailing 25-11 at the half-way mark, but Wazir Singh showed his quality to help his team take the lead with 1 minute to go. Despite Paltans having the momentum, Kashiling Adake ensured the Dabangs did not lose the match as they snatched the game from the team from Maharashtra in the final raid to win 38-37.
After this cracker of a match, the crowd had warmed up and were waiting for a titanic clash between the home side and league leaders, U Mumba. It looked like Anup Kumar’s team would finally lose their first match when Bengal Warriors were leading 23-16 with just 8 minutes left. However, the Arjuna Awardee delivered when it mattered most as Mumbai went on a 12-point run and eventually won the match 29-25, relinquishing just 2 points in the final 8 minutes.
On the final day of the leg, Pune were beaten yet again, this time at the hands of Bengaluru Bulls. The Paltans, like their previous 2 matches, led 13-12 at half time. But, in a match where the defenders had a field day, Ashish Chhokar scored 6 raid points as the Bulls charged in the second half to ensure the Paltans were rooted firmly at the bottom of the table.
The final match of the day and the leg witnessed injuries to 3 main Bengal Warriors players. Dinesh Kumar, Nilesh Shinde and Bajirao Hodage hobbled off the mat during their tie against Dabang Delhi. The Dabangs, buoyed by a rock-solid Ravinder Singh Pahal, got their second consecutive win after defeating a depleted Warriors side 32-21.
The league now moves to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, where the defending champions will look to get their first win of the campaign.