The Jaipur Pink Panthers put up a fine display of their attacking prowess as they beat an off-guard U Mumba 35-24 to clinch the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League trophy here at the Sardar Patel indoor stadium, NSCI in Mumbai on Sunday.
The Jaipur outfit thumped the Mumbai team by a massive 11 points enroute their trophy-winning performance. The visitors looked aggressive right from the beginning letting U Mumba know that they are serious contenders for the final. The Jaipur Pink Panthers having played 14 matches, won 10, lost three and drew one. The match started with Jaipur taking an early lead and maintaining it throughout. Their resilient efforts were a result of not being able to beat U Mumba in their previous two encounters (Jaipur lost the first game 31-45 and drew the second one 31-31). They proved a point at a time when it mattered the most-in the finals.
There was no game plan for the Jaipur side but a single-point strategy. It was to keep it simple, score more points than the opponent. There was only one plan and that was to attack. Having the home support against them seemed to motivate them harder and propelled their appetite to put up a winning performance. Their attacking and aggressive approach was evident of the 13 tackles as compared to Mumbai’s inadequate four. “Revenge was on our minds and we couldn’t have asked for a better stage to outdo Mumbai. We knew our approach had to change and we were ready to take those risks,” said an elated Navneet Gautam, captain of the Pink Panthers. The U Mumba players never let the match get out of hand as they were trailing a close 14-17 at halftime. The Mumbai outfit could never draw level but remained close in terms of the points tally.
U Mumba slackened in the second half as they seemed to lack the attacking firepower the possessed in the first half. It even seemed as if the match had slipped from their hands, which it eventually did. The first ten minutes of the second half saw the Panthers accumulate 10 points in comparison to an abysmally-low one by the Mumbai side. With the score at 27-15 with ten minutes on the clock and an increased gap Mumbai had every reason to worry.
Raiders Maninder Singh and Jasvir Singh deserve credit who terrorised the opposition half with seven and five raids respectively. “We couldn’t have won it if we hadn’t removed the fear factor from our minds. We had worked hard to reach the final and it was more of beating the team that we had failed to. The aggression and hunger clearly showed and there is no question of did the better side win,” said a jubilant Jasvir. Much of the credit for the win goes to coach Randhir Singh, “They beat us in the first match of the competition at this very stadium, we won the last match. No prizes for guessing which one is sweeter. In our 14 games, we had lost just thrice and drew one. This was one game where the boys just didn’t want to lose. Playing Mumbai in the final, at their stadium was all the fire in the belly that my boys could have asked for.”
In the third/ fourth place playoff Patna Pirates clearly were the superior side as they pipped Bengaluru Bulls 29-22. Ravi Dalal and Sandeep Narwal shone for the Patna outfit with four and three raids respectively in the opposition half. “This was one of the best team performances we could have come up with. We didn’t approach it as a nothing to play for playoff match. We wanted to win badly and that showed today. What was even more commendable was to see the raiders put up a good defensive show”, said Captain Rakesh Kumar who will be an integral part of the Indian Kabaddi team that shall fly to Incheon for the Asian Games. The second edition of Pro Kabaddi League will be held in March 2015.
Best defender of the tournament- Manjit Chillar (Bengaluru Bulls)- 51 tackle points
Best Raider of the tournament- Rahul Chaudhari (Telugu Titans)- 151 points
Most valuable player- Anup Kumar (U Mumba)
Best defender of the match (finals)- Prashant Chavan (Jaipur Pink Panthers)
Best raider of the match- Maninder Singh (Jaipur Pink Panthers)