Jaipur Pink Panthers came out on top against the Gujarat Fortune Giants, 22-18, at the EKA Arena by TransStadia on Friday. Pankaj was rock-solid in defence as he secured 6 tackle points in his debut Pro Kabaddi League match.
Sonu Jaglan retained his place after a stellar show against Bengal Warriors, while Manpreet picked Ruturaj and Pankaj in place of Sumit and Ankit.
The Giants raced to an early 2-0 lead, courtesy of Sachin’s running hand touch on Amit Hooda and Pankaj’s tackle on Nitin Rawal. The Panthers came back strongly with two quick points, but it was a cautious approach by both teams, as there were a lot of empty raids in the opening exchanges.
When Nitin Narwal and Deepak Niwas Hooda removed our cover duo of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal in successive raids, it looked like Jaipur were beginning to stamp their authority.
But, the debutant Pankaj pinned down Nitin in a do-or-die raid before tackling Nilesh Salunke to draw us level at 7-7. Pankaj kept threatening the Jaipur raiders but Deepak Niwas Hooda got the better of him in the 17th minute.
Rohit Gulia’s successful raid helped the Giants close down Jaipur’s lead, as we headed into half-time at 9-10.
Sunil Kumar got Nilesh Salunke at the start of the second half, but Rohit Gulia was tackled by Deepak Hooda at the other end, as both defences continue to hold firm. Pankaj completed his High 5 after a strong ankle hold on Ajinkya Pawar.
Despite not being at his best, Sachin Tanwar sent Deepak Niwas Hooda and Nilesh Salunke to the bench and gave us a slender lead at 14-13 in the 33rd minute.
Our defence looked lethal against Nitin Rawal and Nilesh Salunke, but Deepak Niwas Hooda continued to attack us with smart raids. More GB, who came in for an injured Sachin, got Amit Hooda and Vishal to level the score at 17-17.
Our defence finally pinned down Deepak Niwas Hooda and it seemed we had an upper hand after the Jaipur captain was sent to the bench. But three decisive tackles on More GB, Rohit Gulia and Lalit Chaudhary in the dying moments confirmed Jaipur’s four-point win in the end.
Gujarat Fortune Giants 18-22 Jaipur Pink Panthers
Ace defender of the match: Pankaj
With this defeat, the home leg comes to a sad end. The Pro Kabaddi action will shift to Chennai from tomorrow, and the Giants will be up in action against Patna Pirates at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on 23rd August.