Both teams performed went toe to toe in the match.

Ajinkya Pawar, coming in as a substitute, was the star of the night as he sizzled with 11 points in 11 raids to help Tamil Thalaivas post a comfortable 36-26 win over Puneri Paltan in Match 23 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) at The Sheraton Grand in Bengaluru on Friday.

The win was Tamil Thalaivas’ first win of Season 8 of the PKL. Ajinkya Pawar was a treat to fans – he had every trick in the book to negate all attempts from the Puneri Paltan defence. He was a live-wire as he plotted his game beautifully. He chalked out his escape routes well, had enough firepower in him to escape the defenders’ clutches and slowly became Tamil Thalaivas’ do-or-die raid specialist.

Tamil Thalaivas came out all guns blazing and eased themselves to a 2-0 lead with Sahil Singh tackled by showman Rahul Chaudhari with a scintillating double ankle hold. Manjeet was in red-hot form and was unstoppable in the initial raids. He went for a raid, took three Puneri Paltan defenders in his wake, and put Tamil Thalaivas in a position of strength at 9-2.

Going by how the Tamil Thalaivas were dominating the game, an all-out was on the cards and the Paltan suffered their first all-out early into the game, conceding a 9-point lead at 3-12. A change of tactics from Puneri Paltan, relying on their defensive strength did wonders for them as they gradually grew into the game.

Pune defenders Abinesh Nadarajan and Vishal Bharadwaj upped their game as the Tamil Thalaivas seemed to lose the plot, unable to free themselves from the defenders’ clutches. A drop in intensity from Tamil Thalaivas’ Manjeet was what Pune were looking for and the raider had no answers to a strong Puneri defence.

Puneri Paltan reduced the arrears in a quick fashion and were only trailing by 7 points at 11-18 when the referee blew the whistle for halftime.

Puneri Paltan came stronger after the break while it was an all-familiar story for Tamil Thalaivas as they squandered a healthy lead. Puneri Paltan called the shots after an initial lull as Pankaj Mohite produced a sudden burst of speed and reduced Pune’s deficit to just one point.

Ajinkya Pawar survived a do-or-die raid for Tamil Thalaivas as he thwarted an ankle hold attempt from Sombir to help his team keep a slender lead. He was soon in action again as dodged Vishal’s block and Rahul Chaudhari’s ankle hold to extend Thalaivas’ lead to six points.

Pawar lifted his game to a different level delivering for his team with agile raids. He brought up his first Super 10 of his PKL career as he put the match to bed helping Tamil Thalaivas surge to an unassailable 10-point lead with just minutes left on the clock. 

Monu Goyat’s brilliance helps Patna to register a win

Monu Goyat produced one of the most scintillating displays of raiding, scoring seven points in a single raid, as Patna Pirates came from behind to stun defending champions Bengal Warriors 43-29 in Match 24 of the PKL on Friday.

All eyes were on Monu Goyat as the Patna Pirates’ talisman reduced the Bengal Warriors to size with agile and perfect raids. The win propelled Patna Pirates to second on the PKL points table as Bengal Warriors stood in the eighth position. Patna Pirates started on a bang picking up raid points through Sachin and Prashanth Kumar but were soon found wanting more against Bengal Warriors’ Maninder Singh.

Maninder, the star raider, brought out his best as he left the Pirates looking for answers from all corners of the mat. He picked up points at will and overpowered all defensive tactics to return to his half in a jiffy with every passing raid. Patna’s defensive tactics too looked in place for the first few minutes as Bengal Warriors struggled to keep up with the pace of the match.

It was Maninder who helped the defending champions pick up the lead at 11-9 when he sent Monu Goyat and Mohammadreza Chiyaneh to the bench in a single raid. He soon sent Prashanth Kumar on his way in his next raid as Bengal Warriors opened a four-point lead.

Patna Pirates soon lost their way and found all their players on the mat as Bengal Warriors led by a healthy 16-10. Maninder soon registered his Super 10 when he escaped from Chiyaneh’s ankle hold as the defending champions started to call the shots with an eight-point lead.

A contest within a contest between Maninder and Chiyaneh was brewing, and it was the Maninder who emerged on top in the Indo-Iran battle. Maninder got a shoulder touch as Chiyaneh was trying to retreat after a tackle attempt. Patna Pirates slowly tried to crawl into the game, reducing the deficit to just three points, through Neeraj Kumar and Monu Goyat, who scored his 500th raid point.

A moment of failure from Maninder when he stepped out of the mat gave Patna Pirates an opening and they tried to capitalize on that. From then it was a Patna Pirates show as they upped the ante. Patna Pirates soon took a four-point lead when Sachin reduced two Bengal defenders to size and inflicted an all-out on the defending champions. Maninder too looked off-colour as he tumbled to Chiyaneh’s defensive strategy as Bengal looked all at sea.

Monu Goyat then brought up a sensational seven-point raid as Patna Pirates raced to a 14-point lead at 39-25. In the process, Monu also registered his Super 10 of the match. He skipped past one defender, dodged another and then wriggled past the remaining defenders as he came to his half in a jiffy to put his team in the driver’s seat.

The lead swelled with each passing raid as Patna Pirates stamped their authority of the match as Bengal Warriors walked out of the match with no points.

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