By Debayan Mukherjee
Chennai, Oct 8 (IANS) U.P. Yoddha held off a monumental comeback from Tamil Thalaivas to win 37-32 on the second day of the Pro Kabaddi tournament at the packed Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Monday.
Leading 18-4 at halftime, U.P. Yoddha were expected to canter to victory but Tamil Thalaivas, led by India captain Ajay Thakur, staged a marvellous fightback to lose by five points only despite being 19 points in arrears at one stage in the second half.
Recovering from a sloppy start, Thakur pocketed 12 points (nine raid points, three bonus points) to sizzle the mat in the dying minutes of the game with back-to-back successful raids.
The experienced Manjeet Chhillar was excellent too defensively, picking up four tackle points as Tamil Thalaivas came close to pulling off a improbable triumph.
For U.P. Yoddha, Prashanth Kumar Rai (eight points) and Shrikant Yadav (five points) starred in attack while Narender (four tackle points) did the job defensively.A
There was only one team from the beginning as Tamil Thalaivas — who won by 16 points against Patna Pirates on Sunday — looked colourless and lacking ideas.
Thakur, who bagged 14 points in the previous game, unsuccessfully tried to skip past U.P. Yoddha defenders early on as the visitors raced to a 4-0 lead.
U.P. inflicted an all out on Tamil Thalaivas to lead 10-0 and even went to extend their advantage to 12-0 before Prashanth was sent out of the mat to make it 1-12.
Thakur then followed it up with a successful raid to make it 2-12 but his joy was shortlived as Shrikant sent the India captain out of the mat.
To make matter worse, Jasvir Singh failed to wriggle past Pune defenders immediately to leave his side haplessly reeling at 2-14.
At halftime, U.P. Yoddha led 18-4.
It was one way traffic from the start of the second half too, as U.P. Yoddha effected a second all out to further stretch the lead to 22-5.
Tamil Thalaivas tried to fashion a comeback after the all out and did remarkably well to trim the gap to 19-27 riding an all out at the halfway mark of the second period.
Thakur and Chhillar were at the heart of the comeback, the pair using their reservoir of experience to inflict an all out and cut the gap to nine points.
However, UP Yoddha maintained their composure
and didn’t give too many opportunities to Thalaivas to make a comeback.
Thakur achieved a super 10 in the 38th minute as Tamil Thalaivas trailed 26-33. Tamil Thalaivas inflicted an all out in the 29th minute as they trailed 30-34. U.P. Yoddha managed to held firm in the last few minutes to ensure the win.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])