UP Yoddha win despite Tamil Thalaivas’ late resurgence

Chennai: It was a disappointing day for the home crowd but a thrilling one for kabaddi fans as Tamil Thalaivas led a spirited fightback from a 19-point deficit but faltered in the penultimate minutes to go down 37-32 against UP Yoddha in their second match of Pro Kabaddi League at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here yesterday.

UP Yoddha started strong in both offence and defence to take a strong 10-0 lead and inflicted an all-out on the home team in the opening half. Thalaivas captain and star raider Ajay Thakur was not his usual self and the defenders, too, kept faltering taking unnecessary risks without backup.

Once the Thalaivas re-assembled on the mat after the all-out, their defence stepped up and gave the home team its first point of the match in the 13th minute by taking out Yoddha’s main raider Prashanth Kumar Rai with a well-executed block.

But, Yoddha’s Shrikant Jadhav quickly got Thakur out of the equation with a kick that brought back Prashanth Kumar Rai in the closing minutes of the first half.

With the score reading 5-23 in favour of Yoddhas, the Tamil Thalaivas suffered their second all-out as soon as the second half began. Staring at an embarrassing defeat, the Thalaivas decided to go all out, clicking both in defence and offence from there on.

The star of the resurgence was a relatively lesser known Athul MS (previously from Telugu Titans). He stepped up with six-straight point-bearing raids. Inspired by the youngster’s brilliance, stalwart defender Manjeet Chhillar took out Yoddha’s Rishank Devadiga with good support from co-defenders.

Captain Thakur then upped the ante and an edge of the seat two-point raid got Yoddha all-out for the first time with the score reading 28-14, with just 10 minutes remaining in the clock. Thalaivas maintained the same pace and, raided and defended successfully to reduce the deficit to 9 points with scorecard reading 19-28

Thakur started making all the right decisions and inflicted a second all-out on Yoddha and took a Super-10 in the closing stages bringing scoreline to 30-34 in UP’s favour. Yoddhas realised the follies at their end and decided to play it safe.

With the clock ticking to the final whistle, they strategically wasted time on their raids and ended Thalaivas’ hopes of taking it to the dying moments. Narender emerged as the top defender for the Yoddhas with four tackle points.

PUNE VS HARYANA

Earlier on Monday, the first match saw Puneri Paltan’s all-round brilliance take out Haryana Steelers with a 34-22 scoreline. All three Pune raiders, Nitin Tomar (7 points), More G B (6 points) and Deepak Kumar Dahiya (5 points) performed consistently which made the difference to the team.

Tomar’s controlled bursts inflicted two all-outs on Haryana and they were 30-17 ahead in no-time. They eventually succumbed to a 12-point defeat at the hands of the Paltans.

Photos: V M Srinivasan

A Harsha Vardhan