Mumbai: They say lightning never strikes twice at the same place, but Jaipur Pink Panthers proved it wrong by clinching their second PKL title at the same venue they won it in the inaugural season of 2014.
Jaipur Pink Panthers defeated a formidable Puneri Paltan 33-29 to win their second Pro Kabaddi League title after eight years at NSCI Dome, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium, Mumbai.
The inaugural champions become the second most successful team of the league after Patna Pirates with two titles in their kitty.
The game started slowly with both teams being cautious in their approach. It was Puneri Paltan who started leading the game early on but Jaipur Pink Panthers started making inroads with an 8-7 lead in the 13th minute.
All-rounder Nabibaksh came with a dual role as he first tackled Ajith Kumar and then got Sahul Kumar during his raid with Puneri Paltan leading 10-8.
Jaipur Pink Panthers retaliated with Ajith doing a 2-point raid and Reza taking out Akash Shinde in the 19th minute.
The first half ended with Jaipur Pink Panthers taking a 14-12 lead.
Puneri Paltan conceded an early ALL-OUT in the second half as Jaipur took out both remaining players.
After the all-out Puneri Paltan were quick to retaliate as Akash Shinde came up with a 2-point raid.
Substitute Aditya Shinde came on the mat to take a quick point as Puneri Paltan reduced the score to 19-23.
The back and forth between the two teams ensured that none of them had a clear advantage. Puneri Paltan tried their best to chase the game but Jaipur's smartness kept them away.
Jaipur held on to their lead in the last crunch moments to take away the trophy. Jaipur skipper Sunil tackled Akash Shinde in the last seconds which looked like a wrestling bout and that was the crowning moment for Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Jaipur Pink Panthers- Balance of youth and experience
"We played like one unit and that is why we are holding the title now. We learnt from games against them earlier in the season and it helped him. Our senior players like Rahul Chaudhary and captain Sunil Kumar were crucial for us with youngsters like Arjun Deshwal, Ankush Rathee and Ajith stepping up," Jaipur Pink Panthers coach Sanjeev Baliyan said with a big smile on his face.
Jaipur finished as the table toppers of the PKL season 9. With a formidable and balanced squad, Jaipur has been one of the best teams during the course of the season.
Led by experienced Sunil Kumar, Jaipur Pink Panthers largely depended on their lead raider Arjun Deshwal for raiding duties.
The defensive unit of Reza Magbhari, Ankush Rathee, Sahul Kumar and Sunil and their consistency was the major contributor to their pursuit of the title.
Another thing which helped Jaipur Pink Panthers is the players stepping up in crucial moments. Sahul Kumar and V Ajith Kumar stole the show in the semi-finals after a few hot and cold performances during the season.