Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pink Panthers maul Bengal Warriors


Patna, August 10, 2014: Miles away from home, but enlivened by the taste of recent victory, both the Jaipur Pink Panthers and the Bengal Warriors were in fine form tonight. Jaipur’s Jasvir Singh was an unstoppable force, a perfect match for the immovable Bengal Nilesh Shinde. As the two juggernauts battled it out for superiority, Nitin Madane showcased his speed and agility, exploiting every mistake the Jaipur defense made.

Unfortunately for Kolkata, the match’s progression saw an increasingly cohesive Jaipur team makes less and less mistakes, cementing the win for the Pink Panthers.

The start of the game saw the rest of their respective teams carry out a fight of equal proportion, with the Bengal Warriors slowly gaining the upper hand with a clearly superior defense. Down to 3 players by the 8th minute, a closely united Panther defense was able to fend off the Kolkata raids, and with their small numbers each successful tackle earned them double the points, actually earning a 2 point lead and returning to a 5 person size by the 10th minute.

Part of this drama was captain Navneet Gautam, defending against a potential all out raid from the lethal Nitin Madane, injuring his knee in a dodge but yet still able to play a crucial roll in preventing Nitin from reaching the center line, a heroic action that saved his two other in players from elimination.

After bringing back their team to 5 people, the Pink Panthers once again displayed an uncanny skill for comebacks, quickly turning the tables and bringing the Bengal Warriors down to just one player in about 5 minutes. Jasvir Singh gave the comeback its culminating blow, taking out the last Bengal Warrior and bringing the Jaipur Pink Panthers an all out and the lead with 18 points to Kolkata’s 9.

With their team once again all in, Nitin rushed to close the gap, immediately scoring 2 points. But even with Nitin’s lightning fast raids, the Panthers were able to maintain their 9 point lead for the majority of the second half, with Maninder Singh demolishing the Warriors in a 3 touch raid on the 27th minute.  Another all out rocketed them ahead to a 15-point lead, placing the Panthers on track for another landslide victory. With Nitin and Jasvir trading raids, the points continued to rise, with Kolkata unable to close the gap.

With 5 minutes to go, the score stood at Jaipur 35, Bengal Warrios 20. Jasvir’s raid at the 39th minute showed that Jaipur was content with this lead as Jasvir leisurely strolled around the Kolkata side, perfectly happy to come home empty. Thus, the pink flags of the audience jubilantly were thrown into the air to mark Jaipurs second conquest in Patna, and a final score of 39 – 23.

Photo caption: Top: Jaipur Pink Patnhers (pink) and Bengal Warriors players in action. Middle: Jaipur Pink Panthers' owner Abhishek Bachchan showed the victory sign along with his team members. Bottom: Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi gives away a prize to a Jaipur team member in Patna on August 10, 2014.

Press release

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bengaluru Bulls edge past Patna Pirates

Patna, August 10, 2014: The game began with the bitter knowledge that Patna had usurped Bengaluru’s place in the League standing, sending the Bulls down to 4th place and taking their second place position on the podium. 

Fiercely motivated, Bengaluru’s already historically unforgiving defense took its toll on Patna’s star raiders Rakesh Kumar and Ravi Dalal, who time and time again found themselves under the massive weight of the combined Bulls. But the Pirates were on their home turf, and they were eager for a challenge. Having come away with two unlikely ties in their last matches, they were ready once again to beat the odds.  The odds, unfortunately, were on this energized night, unbeatable.

Ravi kicked off the match with a series of stupendous raids, lashing out with hand and foot to slowly pick the defense apart. But by the 4th minute, the Bulls had taken him out with an earth shattering tackle. Rakesh Kumar proved a more difficult challenge for Bengaluru, scoring a touch and then flying back to his own side with explosive power that took any Bengaluru player with him. Patna’s Sandeep Narwal added his own flair to the match, repeatedly taking the high road over the Bull’s defense by jumping far above their heads back to Patna’s side. 

The trio of Patna raiders proved to be a potent combination, able to take out the entire Bengaluru team in less than 12 minutes. For a fleeting moment, Rakesh’s tenacity seemed ready to end his game early, as a defensive attempt ended in a head injury. Against the protestant gestures of his team however, the possibly concussed Rakesh stayed in the game, a questionable decision for the Patna team that would come back to haunt them

At 15 minutes in, the scores were set at 17 – 12 in the Pirate’s favor, but 2 dubious calls from the match officials had diminished the Patna side to only 3 players. Bengaluru Captain Manjit Chillar was sent out to mop them up, running towards Rakesh Kumar. Visibily disoriented, Rakesh attempted a sloppy grab on Manjit, who easily escaped, bringing the Patna down to only 2. An empty raid from Patna gave Manjit another chance, but this time was taken down by a whirlwind tackle by Girish Irnak and Sandeep Narwal, earning Patna 2 points and an additional player just in time for halftime.

It was the second half that finally saw Bengaluru Bull’s star player Ajay Thakur come into full splendour, easily tagging out Suresh Kumar and setting up Manjit to complete the all out by removing Waseem Sajjad. With both teams all in, and the scores set at 23 - 24, the game was very much up in the air.  A successful raid and another mistake from Rakesh, in the form of a bungled raid brought the Bengaluru bulls ahead to 25 – 24, their first lead of the game. Bengaluru’s Parmod Singh’s 2 touch raid combined with a touch from Manjit brought down Patna to just one player, Ravi Dalal. But even Ravi could not save the Pirates from the resolve of the charged up Bulls, and as the Bengaluru defenders piled on top of him, the score changed to Pirates 27, Bulls 31. 

With full-time approaching, the Patna fans watched on the edge of their seats as the two teams each scoring hard earned points. At 36 minutes, Patna needed to score 5 points to get another tie, and 6 to come away with a final victory. Even with a full team this would be a tall order, but as it stood Patna only had 4 players on the mat. The crowd roared to its feet as Sandeep scored a 2 point raid, and was able to get even louder as the 6 defenders were able to bring down the Captain Manjit Chillar. But time was against the Pirates, and as Rakesh stepped out with only 20 seconds remaining in the 39th minute of the game, it was once again up to him to save his team from a loss. 

Ajay Thakur gestured towards his fellow defenders, sweeping his arm back to tell them to let Rakesh be. Ajay knew that if they risked the potential multiple points in a failed tackle, they would give Rakesh the win. But Manjit could not resist. He had been outdone by Rakesh too many times that night, and he broke away from his team to slam into Rakesh’s midsection. 

Knocking him to the ground, it looked like the game would end in personal failure for the Patna captain. But Rakesh turned it into an epic personal triump, grasping hold of Manjit and rolling both of their bodies backwards onto the Patna side. But a personal triumph was not a team triumph, and the match ended with Patna falling just short of a tie, with the scores at Bengauru Bulls 37, Patna Pirates 35.

Press release

Photo caption: Patna Pirates (yellow and green) and Bengaluru Bulls players in action during their Pro Kabaddi League match in Patna on August 10, 2014.

Photo: Aftab Alam Siddiqui

India sweep hockey series 3-0 against Bangladesh

New Delhi, August 9, 2014: Indian men hockey team registered their third consecutive victory over Bangladesh and cleaned sweep the three-match series by 3-0. Team India continued their winning spree and defeated the host nation by 3-1 in the last match played at Dhaka today.

India started the match with their attacking game and achieved their first goal in 6th minute through forward Yuvraj Walmiki. After the early success, India tried to create more opportunities in the first half but Bangladeshi defenders managed to restrict the Indian attack.

In the 2nd half, India came back with a better plan and managed to earn a penalty in 38th minute. Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh converted the penalty corner into a beautiful goal and gave India 2-0 lead. Bangladesh fought back hard after conceding two goals and managed to score a goal in 56th minute through Pushkor Khisa Mimu. Indian skipper Vikram Kanth scored the third goal for his team in 57th minute and helped his team to remain unbeaten in the series.

Speaking on the win, Coach Tushar Khandker said, “This series was a good experience for us. All the players got enough chance and opportunity to take their skills to another level. We need to improve more on penalty corner conversions and man to man marking. I would also like to appreciate Bangladesh team for their competitive game”.

HI Press release