Patna Pirates will have the chance to be the 1st team to successfully defend their PKL crown after sneaking past Puneri Paltan with a thrilling 37-33 win in the 1st semi-final at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday. Pardeep Narwal starred for Patna with 8 raids and 2 tackles.
The defending champions have showed their consistency throughout the season. Having lost only 4 of their 14 matches, they finished first on the league table. They were looking to show their dominance in the league and lift the trophy for the second time and become the first-ever team to defend their title.
Pune, on the other hand, had lost track coming to the end after a promising start this season. They had lost 4 matches before winning the final 2 and taking the last playoff spot.
Ajay Thakur and Rajesh Mondal, for Pune and Patna respectively, started off with empty raids, as the match got off to a slow start. Ajay Thakur won Pune its first points in the 3rd minute of the game, and Patna replied with Rajesh Mondal touching both Nitin Tomar and Parmod Narwal to take the score to 2-1.
At the start of the game, all eyes were on Pardeep Narwal and Manjeet Chhillar, the two stars of their respective sides, and the duo faced off for the first time in the 6th minute. Pardeep went for a raid and was superbly tackled by Manjeet as Pune took a 3-2 lead.
Five minutes later, Pardeep got the better of Manjeet as he brilliantly jumped over the later's tackle during a raid to take the score to 6-6. However, Pune replied in style with Parmod Narwal touching Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Bajirao Hodage, and Fazel Atrachali during a raid to extend his team's lead to 9-6.
That lead did not last long though as Patna produced a brilliant defensive performance, with Kuldeep Singh leading the way. Patna took back the lead at 16-13 and ended the first half on a high.
Pune came out firing all cylinders in the second half, and a couple of successful raids from Deepak Niwas Hooda took the score to 17-17. However, Patna thwarted two super raids, courtesy of Hadi Oshtorak and Pardeep Narwal, and grabbed back the lead at 22-18.
The match turned on its head at this point though. Pune enforced an all-out as Manjeet Chhillar led the way to a 28-24 lead, with just seven minutes remaining on the clock. It seemed like Pune will be able to pull off an upset. But, the topsy-turvy match swung back in Patna's favour once again with Pardeep Narwal producing the goods when his team needed it the most. In the end, Patna managed to take a 37-33 lead as the first semi-final came to an end. They will now wait for the winner between the match between Telugu Titans and Jaipur Pink Panthers in the final, where they will look to win the title for the second time.
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