MUMBAI: UP Yoddhas came into the Pro Kabaddi League Season 9 Eliminator 2 match with plenty of play-off experience under its belt – it has never failed to make it to the top-six since its inception in 2017. Its opponent on the night, Tamil Thalaivas, was appearing in the play-offs for the very first time.
The past records counted for little at the end at the Dome, NSCI SVP Stadium, here on Tuesday, as Thalaivas edged out Yoddhas 6-4 in the tie-breaker after the teams played out an exhilarating 36-36 tie in the regulation time of 40 minutes. New tie-breaker rules were introduced and the Tamil Nadu side was spot on with its tactics when it mattered the most.
“I had planned for the tie-breaker in the last few minutes of normal time. We planned to send four raiders and one defender in the tie-breaker (according to the rules, five different players have to raid once each for a team in the tie-breaker). I am proud of my boys for their execution,” said Thalaivas head coach Ashan Kumar in the post-match press conference. With the thrilling victory, TT will face Puneri Paltan in the semi-finals here on Thursday.
In regulation time, Narendar (13 points – 12 raid points and 1 tackle point) and skipper Ajinkya Pawar (10 points – 9 raid points and 1 tackle point) sizzled for Thalaivas while Yoddhas captain Pardeep Narwal (12 raid points) brought his team back into the contest with a ‘Super Raid’ in the last minute. But, in the battle between ‘Dubki Kid’ and ‘Dubki King’, the former came out on top.
After making a fast start, the southern side held a slender two-point lead (16-14) at the breather while reducing the UP team to just one active member on the mat. In the first minute of the second period, Thalaivas effected its first ‘All Out’ to lay down a marker. TT was ahead for the majority of the match, but let Yoddhas back in the last two minutes by suffering its first and only ‘All Out’.
Defending champ Delhi out
Defending champion Dabang Delhi’s hopes of retaining the title were crushed by Bengaluru Bulls as it was kicked out of the competition in the first Eliminator.
The Bulls players did just what the doctor – head coach Randhir Singh Sehrawat in this case – ordered to set up an utterly dominant 56-24 victory. Bengaluru’s win was studded with four ‘All Outs’, with two coming either side of the half-time interval.
For Bulls that outplayed Delhi in all facets of the game, Bharat (15 points) and Vikash Kandola (13 raid points) performed their raiding duties to near perfection while Ponparthiban Subramanian delivered a defensive masterclass with seven tackle points. Besides cover defender Ponparthiban, who was playing only his third match of PKL Season 9, right corner Saurabh Nandal bagged a ‘High 5’.
“This was our best match of the season [so far]. With Vikash back in form, we will do well in the upcoming matches,” said an elated Randhir, whose team will lock horns with Jaipur Pink Panthers for a place in the title decider.
RESULTS: Tamil Thalaivas 36 tied with UP Yoddhas 36 (Thalaivas won tie-breaker 6-4); Bengaluru Bulls 56 bt Dabang Delhi 24