Jaipur Pink Panthers beat Tamil Thalaivas 28-26

Chennai: Jaipur Pink Panthers showcased once again why they are the team to beat in VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 table as they thwarted a spirited performance from the local side Tamil Thalaivas to win the match 28-26 and open up a 7-point lead on top of the table.

The match had been billed as the battle between Youth and Experience after Pink Panthers’ coach Srinivas Reddy called experienced the lineup of Thalaivas “Old Horses” nearing their retirement in the pre-match press conference and there was no shortage of action right from the first whistle. A fully-charged Thalaivas started the match on the front foot, with captain Ajay Thakur not holding himself back for the latter stages, and sharing raiding duties with Rahul Chaudhary. Jaipur’s well-balanced young side were in no mood to cave in though, with the likes of Nitin Rawal and Nilesh Salunke impressing for the season one champions. The home team reduced the number of Pink Panthers on the mat to two with just over four minutes remaining till half-time though, but an empty raid by Rahul Chaudhary, largely due to defensive nous of the Pink Panthers, saved the table-toppers from an All-Out as the half ended 13-1 in favour of the Jaipur team.

The Pink Panthers evaded the All-Out for another four minutes in the second half until Rahul Chaudhary finished it with a two-point raid taking out Pavan TR and Deepak Hooda and levelling the points. E Bhasakaran’s Thalaivas had a clear gameplan of targeting the Jaipur corners, which produced off-colour performances from Sandeep Dhull and Amit Hooda on the night. Jaipur captain Deepak Niwas Hooda also had an unusually quiet game but the team from Jaipur remained in the game through some clever substitutions, Super Tackles and Nilesh Salunke’s hoarding of bonus points.

With three minutes remaining in the match, a clever review by the Pink Panthers helped them open up a 4 point lead in the match. From thereon, the Pink Panthers managed time artfully, to hold on to a slender lead. In the end, Thaliavas’ intensity was not enough to see them through as the Jaipur side once again proved how well they work together as a unit.