Pro Kabaddi 2016 | Puneri Paltan edge past Telugu Titans to retain third spot

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Pro Kabaddi 2016 | Puneri Paltan edge past Telugu Titans to retain third spot

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Arun S Kaimal


Last edition’s 3rd-place winners Puneri Paltan retained their 3rd spot in the 4th season of Pro Kabaddi League after defeating Telugu Titans 35-40 at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday. In the match, Rahul Chaudhari also became the 1st player to score 500 points in the PKL.

Starting seven:

Telugu Titans : Rahul Chaudhari, Nilesh Salunke, Rupesh Tomar, S Mahalingam, Sagar B Krishna, Sandeep Narwal, Vishal Bhardwaj

Puneri Paltan: Ajay Thakur, Nitin Tomar, Somvir Shekhar, Parmod Narwal, Deepak Niwas Hooda, Ajay Thakur, Ravinder Kumar, Joginder Narwal

After losing a nail-biting semi-final to defending champions Patna Pirates, last edition's third-place winners Puneri Paltan went into the third-place play-off against Telugu Titans hoping to retain the third spot once again. Skipper Manjeet Chhillar, who played against Patna Pirates in the semis, sat out the match with him still suffering from the shoulder injury. Joginder Narwal took the captaincy in his absence for the Pune side.

On the other hand, home side Telugu Titans had suffered a heavy defeat to inaugural champions Jaipur Pink Panthers in the semis and took on Puneri Paltan in a bid to secure the third position for the second time in the PKL history, having finished third in the second season. Titans hopes were pinned on skipper Rahul Chaudhari, who was just one point away from becoming the first player to reach 500 points in the history of PKL.

The two matches between the sides in the league stage went down to the wire with both teams securing one win each. But, Puneri Paltan started the match on a positive note and secured an all-out within the first ten minutes to take a seven-point lead at 10-3. All eyes were on Rahul Chaudhari, but the Telugu Titans skipper went through three empty raids at the start to disappoint the home fans. A bonus point in his fourth raid helped him reach the 500-point mark in PKL. But, the euphoria of the Rahul Chaudhari’s feat was quickly diminished by Deepak Niwas Hooda, as he touched the Telugu skipper and Sandeep Narwal to enforce an all-out.

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With the score at 10-3 in favour of Pune, it looked like an uphill task for the home side. But, Rahul Chaudhari reduced the lead to four by securing a super raid and ousting Somvir Shehkar, Parmod Narwal, and Ravinder Kumar. The rapid gathering of points from both the sides slowed down a bit after the tenth minute as the teams switched to a more defensive approach.

With three minutes to go for the end of the half, Telugu Titans brought in Athul MS for Sagar B Krishna and the change turned the match on its head. In the next raid, Athul stepped into the lobby without a touch and three defenders from Pune – Joginder Narwal, Preetam Chhillar, and Parmod Narwal - followed him to gift three points to the home side. Although Pune reviewed the decision, the points went to Telugu Titans. From a 15-8 lead for Pune, the match went to 17-14 by the time the half-time break came and the Titans were on the driving seat with just one Pune player – Deepak Niwas Hooda - remaining on the court and with the home side set to raid first after the break.

Also read: Pro Kabaddi has shown how to handle women's sport: Are you watching BCCI?

Rahul Chaudhari did the formality after the break and touched Hooda to enforce an all-out and to level the points at 17-17. The star raider of the Titans turned on the show after the break and bagged one point after another to inflcit another all-out on Pune. But Pune refused to go down without a fight and crawled their way back into the match by banking on their defensive stability. With Deepak Niwas Hooda bagging points through his raids, Pune inflicted another all-out on the home side in the 35th minute to regain their lead.

Hooda and Chaudhari scored points for fun with both the players crossing the ten figure mark for their respective teams. And it was Hooda that finished off the match as he secured super raid in the 39th minute by ousting Rahul Chaudhari and S Mahalingam along with taking a bonus point. With the scores at 39-35 and with one minute the match looked over and it proved to be the same. Telugu Titans failed to get more points with Rahul Chaudhari off the court and Pune made the most of it to retain their third spot.

Read more about the rise of the ancient sport of Kabaddi

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