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PKL 10: Jaipur Pink Panthers' road to playoffs

Published at :February 22, 2024 at 5:33 PM
Modified at :February 23, 2024 at 12:31 PM
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Siddharthan P


Defending champions are eyeing their second consecutive title.

The defending champions, the Jaipur Pink Panthers, were also the clear favorites coming into season 10 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 10). The season began with the Pink Panthers off to a slow start winning only one of the four games. But they have bounced back nicely, as they had a historic run of 13 games without a loss. With momentum on their side, all teams are wary of facing the inaugural champions

Even in the closing seconds, the team’s unwavering effort is what’s most impressive; thus far this season, they had three tied games. The continuation of the previous season has been one of the key reasons for their success. They have finished the league stage with 92 points and have booked their tickets to Hyderabad to play the semis.

With the two-time champions gunning for a third, let’s look back at their journey so far

First Half Of The Season: Mixed start

With the weight of the tag of defending champions, the Jaipur Pink Panthers had a slow start to the season as they lost to Pune in the last game. They could register only one win in the next three games as they were in the bottom half of the season. But coach Sanjiv Baliyan’s tactics and change in strategy proved to be decisive as they bounced back strongly.

Rahul Chaudhary might be a bigger name but the coach true to his belief that no one is greater than the game itself decided to replace him with Bhavani Rajput. While Arjun Deshwal was at his consistent best, the young combination of quickness of Ajit Kumar and the tall Bhavani Rajput made the opposition defenders commit mistakes which started an historic 13-match unbeaten run.

Second Half of the Season: Consistency at its core

The Jaipur Pink Panthers were winning games thanks to Arjun Deshwal who had been leading the Raiding charts. But they looked vulnerable with their defense struggling to find the combination. The skipper Sunil Kumar and Ankush took a while to find form and when they did they started to become at their invincible best much like how they did when they won the championship in season nine.

If one could state a reason for their favorite tag, it is their relentless approach to winning games out of nowhere. The fact that in Super Tackles, the combination of Ankush (8) and Reza Mirbagheri (7) has ensured no Raider can be safe when there are three or fewer defenders. With Sunil Kumar and Sahul Kumar being their proven match-winners, they eased into the playoffs finishing with 16 wins from 22 games.

Home Leg: Domination

The Jaipur leg was the seventh leg in the caravan format, starting the second half of the season. They won all four games in their home leg, the only team to do so this season. They were pushed to limits by Telugu Titans as they won the first game 38-35. The second game was a repeat of the 2023 finals as they clinched Puneri Paltans.

Arjun Deshwal unleashed his best as he scored 50 points in four games as the opposition defenders had no answers for season nine’s Best Raider. The cover combination of Sunil Kumar and Reza Mirbagheri was at their mercurial best as they made life miserable for the Raiders. Both ensured at least one of them was on the mat controlling the game with their experience.

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