The Giants squared off against Haryana Steelers in their first appearance of 2022, hoping to start the New Year with a bang. However, things didn’t pan out according to the script, as Gujarat Giants didn’t start off well.
Haryana Steelers made the first raid of the match, but it was Gujarat Giants who picked up the first point through a Ravinder Pahal tackle. Both teams were extremely tentative in the opening 5 minutes and it was Gujarat who found themselves slightly ahead at 3-2. After securing 2 points in a Do-or-Die raid, the Haryana captain, Vikash Kandola, seemed unstoppable. He soon secured the first All Out of the match, as Haryana Steelers took a 10-5 lead in the opening quarter of the game.
4 minutes later, the Haryana captain played a pivotal role in getting Gujarat Giants All Out for the second time in the first half. Haryana Steelers were in the driver’s seat at the stroke of the half-time whistle, as the Giants defense looked out of sorts. The teams went off the mat with the scoreboard reading 22-10 in Haryana’s favor.
The second half showed what the Gujarat Giants are all about. They clawed their way back into the game, slowly and steadily. The main instigator for this was Rakesh S, whose stock has risen rapidly since his debut against Jaipur Pink Panthers earlier in the season. He registered the first Super 10 of his vivo Pro Kabaddi career, helping Gujarat reduce the deficit to just 5 points at the 30-minute mark.
The likes of Ravinder Pahal and Rakesh Narwal, too, found their feet in the second half. However, the young raider scored the bulk of Gujarat’s points, with 15 raid points in the 33rd minute of the game. The experienced Giants defense provided plenty of support as well, as the men from Gujarat came from behind as they took the lead in 38th minute, with the scoreline reading 33-31.
Haryana Steelers staged the second comeback of the match with less than 2 minutes remaining on the clock. They tied the match at 35-35 with just over a minute remaining before taking a 2 point lead in the last embers of the game. Sunil Kumar scored a raid point to make it 37-36 with just enough time remaining for Haryana Steelers’ last raid.
However, a rare mistake by Ravinder Pahal handed a point to Vikash Kandola and all 5 points to Haryana Steelers. The Giants managed to sneak in a point and are currently placed 6th on the table, with 13 points in the bag.
Rakesh S was undoubtedly Gujarat’s best player, having racked up 19 points through 18 successful raids.