The Jaipur Pink Panthers players thank the home crowd
After a disappointing home leg for Bengal Warriors in Kolkata, the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi caravan moved to the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur. The home team in the third leg, Jaipur Pink Panthers, were winless in the tournament ahead of the leg and were looking to get their campaign back on track with a repeat of last season’s performance when they won all 3 matches at home.
However, they were not only handed their first defeat at home in Pro Kabaddi history, but were brushed aside in 3 matches, while they got their only win of the tournament against the Bengaluru Bulls on the third day of the leg.
The Jaipur leg started with last season’s defending champions hosting the 3rd placed team from last season, Patna Pirates. The Rakesh Kumar-led Pirates handed the Panthers their first defeat ever at home by 29-23. The home side were leading 11-10 at half time, but the Indian national team captain rallied his troops and ensured his team won, putting up a man of the match display in the process. He was ably supported by raider Sandeep Narwal, who helped out in defence too.
The second match was a titanic battle between the two undefeated teams – U Mumba and Telugu Titans. Anup Kumar, with 10 points, skippered his side to yet another victory – their 6th on the trot by edging past the Titans narrowly, 27-26. The Rahul Chaudhari-led side were leading 13-6 in the 18th minute, but the runners-up from last season took the match by its horns from there and took the lead in the 37th minute, which they held on to till the end.
Jasvir Singh got Jaipur their first win of the campaign
The second day of the Jaipur leg saw Bengaluru Bulls break Dabang Delhi’s two-match winning run while Telugu Titans returned to winning ways against the Panthers. Manjeet Chhillar starred in a dominating display by the Bulls as they romped to a 33-18 victory.
The Titans coach J Udaya Kumar made a surprise change in leadership when he chose Deepak Nivas Hudda to replace Rahul Chaudhari to lead the side against the Panthers. This helped the 22-year-old raider break off his shackles as he scored 11 points in his team’s 33-22 win over the Panthers to the dismay of the home crowd.
The only match on the third day of the Jaipur leg was between the Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengaluru Bulls. Despite trailing 15-10, Kuldeep Singh came up with, what was possibly, the raid of the tournament as he came back with 4 points and from there, the Panthers roared to their maiden victory. Jasvir Singh scored 8 points to help the home team break their duck by beating the Bulls convincingly, 36-23.
The final day of the leg brought another first, this time for Puneri Paltan as they got the better of Bengal Warriors 33-29 in a match when Pravin Newale and Wazir Singh dazzled the full Sawai Mansingh Stadium, warming them up for the home team’s match against Dabang Delhi later. The final match was an anti-climactic end to the home leg for Jaipur Pink Panthers as they bowed down meekly 27-35 to a defensively-solid Dabang Delhi. Captain Ravinder Pahal put up a commanding display to ensure the Dabangs returned to winning ways and make things even tougher for the Panthers.
The league now moves to the other end of the country as Patna will play hosts for the final leg of the first half of the league from 30th July to 2nd August. The Pirates are bottom of the table, but have played just 3 matches and will look to improve their league standings in the busy few days ahead.
Originally published on Sportskeeda.com here