How Telugu Titans used home advantage to move to top of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi
The fifth leg of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi saw the people of Hyderabad play gracious hosts to all the franchises. The home side – Telugu Titans – ended the leg undefeated after 2 wins and 2 draws from their 4 matches. There was plenty of movement in the league table after Jaipur Pink Panthers moved to the top 4 while the most significant change was the displacement of U Mumba from the top spot by the Titans for the very first time in the second season.
The Hyderabad leg started the same way the Patna leg had ended – a draw. Jaipur Pink Panthers, after a horrid first half, managed to sneak in a 39-39 draw against home side Telugu Titans. Rahul Chaudhari and Sonu Narwal scored 14 points in the match as both teams shared the spoils in a match which swung wildly.
After the audience was treated to a cracker of a match, U Mumba completed their 8th win in a row by completing the double on Dabang Delhi. The Ravinder Pahal-led side looked like inflicting the first defeat on U Mumba after the first half, but Anup Kumar, with 8 points, led from the front and ensured that his team started the second half of the season on a positive note.
The Gachibowli Indoor Stadium was treated to a spectaclde on the second day when the Titans hammered the Bengal Warriors 44-28 to end their 2-match winless streak in style. Deepak Nivas Hudda and Rahul Chaudhari were unstoppable as the Titans closed the gap on the league leaders despite the best efforts of Mahendra Rajput, who scored 14 points – the most by a player in a losing cause.
The Warriors suffered another defeat on the third day of the leg when they took on Bengaluru Bulls. The Manjeet Chhillar-led team were dominant throughout their 33-22 win as Ajay Thakur took the Bull by its horns and guided them to another win. The 29-year-old raider scored the bulk of the points (12) and emerged as the best player of the match.
The Pirates were ripped apart by the Titans
The second match of the day saw another win for the Titans as they romped home to a record-breaking 54-32 victory over top-4 contenders Patna Pirates. Buoyed by the vociferous home support, the Titans started the match like a team possessed as they took just 5 minutes to inflict the first all out on their opponents, who fell like a pack of cards and suffered another all out after just 9 minutes in the match.
Meraj Sheykh, who scored 8 points in just 2 raids in the first half, and Rahul Chaudhari were the joint top-scorers in the match (11 points) as they registered the highest score in the second season of the tournament. Leading massively, 38-12, at half time, the Titans completed the rout despite a good final 10 minutes for the visiting side, who were playing nothing but pride after a humiliating first period.
The final day was a day of firsts in season 2 of Pro Kabaddi. It was the first time Jaipur Pink Panthers broke into the top 4 this season (replacing Patna Pirates in the process), while the biggest news was U Mumba's first loss at the hands of the Panthers.
The Panthers led throughout in a dazzling 35-25 win over early pacesetters - U Mumba, to hand them their first defeat this season after 8 consecutive wins. Raider Sonu Narwal ensured that the Mumbaikars could not complete a double on the defending champions (U Mumba had beaten Jaipur Pink Panthers 29-28 in the opening match).
After a shocking start to the day, Puneri Paltan sniffed an opportunity to get their campaign back on track by conjuring up a similar upset against the home team. However, the home side were not about to give up their home dominance that easily as they came from behind to draw the match 29-29. The Paltans, with the help of Wazir Singh, who scored a massive 12 points in the match, led for the majority of the match, but a frantic final minute saw the Titans overcome a 2-point deficit to ensure they ended the home leg undefeated and reach the summit of the Pro Kabaddi table.
The league now moves to the north with Dabang Delhi taking over as the hosts for the next 4 days. After an action-packed Hyderabad leg, we wait with bated breath to watch the action unfold in Delhi.