Puneri Paltan locked horns with Bengaluru Bulls in match 13 of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League in Kolkata on Saturday. Coming after a heart-breaking defeat against Dabang Delhi on Friday, Pune were up against a formidable Bengaluru unit that entered the mat riding on the momentum of a comfortable win against Patna Pirates. Pune once again gave away their first half lead to their opponents which eventually cost them the match. The final score read 31-26 in favour of the Bulls.
First half: Puneri Paltan start strong, Bengaluru manage to stay in the hunt
A full-strength Puneri Paltan squad were up and running from the very first minute as they surged ahead into the lead. Bengaluru Bulls, without their star raider Ajay Thakur, struggled to pick up early points and were at the receiving end. The Bulls finally opened their account in the 8th minute through Ashish Chhokar who won a bonus point. Pune continued their onslaught and went on to inflict an all-out in the ninth minute itself to earn two additional points.
Trailing 5-10, the Bengaluru Bulls needed a source of motivation in order to buckle up and reduce the deficit. Skipper Manjeet Chhillar stepped up to the task and led his team from the front, winning raid points against the likes of Pune captain Wazir Singh and Manoj Kumar. Owing to Manjeet’s fearless play and equal support from his teammates, Bengaluru managed to nearly wipe out the difference as the score read 13-12 in favour of Pune.
Bengaluru Bulls take control of proceedings in second half, Pune suffer fourth straight defeat
The start of the second half saw Bengaluru Bulls cash in on whatever came their way. Manjeet Chhillar’s impeccable all-round play was supported by Rajesh Mondal, Ashish Chhokar and Rakesh Narwal. Narwal, who stands 6’4″ tall, used his height to great effect as he plundered bonus points as well as touch points. His best raid came in the 32nd minute, where he made contact with two players and hit the mid-line with a brilliant hand extension. A strong tackle from Manoj Kumar was not sufficient as the wily raider somehow managed to get to the line and virtually sealed the fate of the game.
Barring Wazir Singh and Manoj Kumar, no Pune player seemed to pose a threat for the Bengaluru Bulls. Regular raider Mahipal Narwal seemed off-colour as he could not win a single point for his team. Substitute Amit Rathi was brilliant in the two minutes he got to play and the tall raider should be given more exposure on the mat.
Final score: Puneri Paltan 26-31 Bengaluru Bulls