Jaipur, August 23, 2014: It was houseful at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium, as the vocal crowd of Jaipur turned up to celebrate the last day of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League in the Pink city. Fuelled by the enthusiasm of Pink Panther owner Abhishek Bachchan the Pink Panthers stole the show yet again, overcoming the rather strong looking Puneri Paltan challenge. With a score of 33-27, Jaipur became the third team to join U Mumba and Telegu Titans to turn their home into a fortress, not losing a single game there.
A contest between the top and bottom ranked teams in the league table, the home-team did not disappoint. Being the only team to have qualified for the semi-finals, the Jaipur played like champions, overpowering Puneri Paltan from the word go. Though out of the running for the semis, Pune looked strong but fell just short of the Panthers.
As Rajesh Narwal ousted Pune’s Manoj Kumar, Jaipur got the break they needed, tackling the Pune captain in the very next raid. But a defiant Pune did not let Jaipur march ahead, keeping the scores tied to three in the sixth minute.
Charged by the chants of “Jasvir, Jasvir” filling the stadium, the man left Pune to just two men, taking them one down during his very next raid and letting his team tackle down the last man standing, Swapnil Shinde. Jaipur earned their first LONA points at the end of the tenth minute. Leading by 6 points, the Jaipur outfit stepped up the game taking down Swapnil Shinde Mangesh Bhagat and captain Wazir Singh one after the other. A brilliant reverse –scorpion kick by Jasvir Singh reduced Pune to a four-man army yet again. As Jitesh Joshi left the field, the crowd burst in a euphoric cheer, celebrating the half-time score of 20-10, in favour of their team.
The beginning of the second-half saw Wazir Shah reducing Jaipur to a four-man army, and Navneet Gautam’s men seemed a little shaky. Reduced to just two Panthers, the Jaipur team conceded the first LONA points, taking the score to 21 all. However Jaipur was quick to bounce back, overthrowing Mangesh and Wazir consecutively. Going neck to neck, the Pune made sure that Jaipur do not have a sizable lead by their side. Jaipur manages to inch ahead thanks to Maninder’s raid which took down Jitesh Joshi and Mangesh Bhagat, earning his team two crucial points. It was now up to the Pune captain to revive his players, a challenge he could not complete, giving Jaipur their second Lona points for the day and winning the match by six points.
Photo caption: Jaipur raider Jasvir Singh undertakes a raid on Pune citadel during their Pro Kabaddi League match in Jaipur on August 23, 2014.
Photo and release: Organisers