Panthers hold on to beat Bulls

Jaipur leapfrog Bengaluru to third place; Bengal Warriors down Puneri Paltan

Panthers hold on to beat Bulls

Jaipur Pink Panthers held their nerves and survived a late scare to script a 27-25 victory over Bengaluru Bulls in their Pro Kabaddi League encounter here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.

The victory extended the Panthers sensational run as they dislodged the Bulls to jump to the third spot with 36 points from 12 games. The Bulls, who suffered their third straight defeat, slipped a place below to the fourth spot with 33 points from 11 matches.

The hosts’ late fightback helped them muster a point. Having played a game less than the Panthers, the solitary point could prove crucial at the end of the league stage when the semifinal line-up will be decided.

Under pressure to win all their remaining games, Panthers made their intentions clear when they produced an all-out in the eighth minute to take a big 10-2 lead. It was too hard for the hosts to then make a comeback. But a few intelligent raids from the bankable Ajay Thakur helped the Bengaluru unit claim few points as they went into the halftime trailing 10-16.

Leading by example, skipper Jasvir (4) formed a strong defensive combo with the talented Kuldeep Singh (4). The duo never allowed Bengaluru Bulls’ skipper and dangerous all-rounder Manjeet Chillar to settle in and kept Thakur subdued. Jaipur’s Sonu Narwals’ all-round show (8) added to the Bulls’ misery.

In the second half, Panthers adopted a highly defensive strategy as they decided to kill time with many empty raids. Booed by a packed house, the visitors showed little aggression and waited for their opponents to commit mistakes.

Capitalising on the Panthers’ change in approach, the Bulls’ produced a final charge by Thakur. At 20-27, with just two minutes remaining, the Himachal player claimed two points and Manjeet sent back the only remaining Panthers’ player to give the hosts a thrilling all-out. Jaipur then saw off a tense last minute and clinched the match 27-25.

Their over dependence on Thakur (8) and Chillar (6) cost the Bulls dear and they now face a must-win situation in their remaining three encounters here. Warriors score Earlier, in the first match of the day, Bengal Warriors set aside a lowly Puneri Paltan 31-28.

Despite the win, Warriors remained in seventh position with 21 points while Paltans, who received one point from the game, stayed rooted at the bottom with 14 points to their name.

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