HYDERABAD: Puneri Paltan may have travelled south for the Hyderabad leg of the Pro Kabaddi League but its performance continued to surge upwards as it coasted to a 41-28 win over Haryana Steelers here on Friday.
The victory enabled Puneri (54 points from 15 matches) to consolidate its position in the top-two of the table. This is Puneri’s ninth win in 15 games, while Haryana suffered its eighth defeat in 15 matches. Puneri’s remarkable streak of dominance could largely be ascribed to the outstanding performance of two of its young raiders in Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat who finished with an identical 10 points each.
Both Aslam and Mohit were quick off the blocks constantly being a scourge of the Haryana defenders. There may have been little to separate the raiding duo in terms of points scored, but Mohit stole Aslam’s thunder when he conjured up a sensational five-point ‘Super Raid’ midway through the second half that had the capacity crowd on its feet.
Given how the two have been going from strength to strength setting the ‘mat’ on fire, it won’t be long before they go on to become household names or have the ardent admirers putting their face masks on and cheering for them lustily.
A word of praise for another of Puneri’s promising young raiders in Akash Shinde, who finished with a creditable seven points against Haryana, wouldn’t go amiss. The fact that the trio secured 27 of their team’s 41 points underlined their priceless contribution.
In the post-match press conference, Haryana coach Manpreet Singh rued his team’s inability to effect even a single ‘All Out’ and was gracious enough to admit that his side was outplayed by a much superior outfit. “All the different facets of our game failed today (Friday). Our raiders struggled to score points off ‘Do or Die’ raids. And our defence, too, was found wanting at key moments,” observed Manpreet.
Asked about his team’s chances of qualifying for the play-offs in the wake of a demoralising defeat, Manpreet remained his usual sanguine self. “I’m 100 per cent confident that we will finish in the top-six come the end of the league stage. We still have seven matches left and until our last game is played, I won’t give up hope of qualifying.”
His counterpart BC Ramesh, meanwhile, was understandably pleased with his side’s showing. “This is a crucial win against a tough opponent. We have two more difficult matches coming up against Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengaluru Bulls. That should give us a fair idea of where we are at as we inch closer to the play-offs,” explained Ramesh.
In the evening’s second match, home team Telugu Titans struggled to put an end to its worrying run of form as it slumped to a 28-36 defeat to Bengal Warriors. Egged on by a partisan crowd, Titans did well in the first half to trail Bengal by just a solitary point at 13-14. But the tide turned in the second half when Titans was once again let down by its familiar woes in defence. In the last match of the evening, Bengaluru earned a hard-fought 45-38 win over Gujarat Giants to cement its position at the top of the table.
RESULTS: Puneri Paltan 41 bt Haryana Steelers 28; Bengal Warriors 36 bt Telugu Titans 28; Bengaluru Bulls 45 bt Gujarat Giants 38