It has been quite an underwhelming campaign for defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers in the second season of the Pro Kabaddi League. Having won 13 of their 16 matches in the last season, the Abhishek Bachchan-owned side was expected to stroll their way to the semis this term. However, it has been anything but easy for the Panthers. The team made a slow start to the season that left them reeling in the bottom half of the table with just 8 points from 6 games.
The Jaipur franchise has, however, recovered from the disappointing start with some impressive performances in its last five games. After coming into the Delhi leg clinging on to the last semi-final spot, the Jaipur team posted two impressive wins to significantly improve their chances of qualifying for the semis.
U Mumba and Telugu Titans qualify for semis; Bengal Warriors out of the reckoning
The Delhi leg began with home side Dabang Delhi losing by 17-20 to Bengal Warriors. Delhi recovered in their next game to beat Patna Pirates 45-26. However, the next day, they suffered a 21-51 annihilation at the hands of Jaipur Pink Panthers. In their last home game against the high-flying Telugu Titans, Delhi gave away a two-point lead in the last minute to settle for a tie.
In the other games, U Mumba qualified for the semis with a 31-17 win over Bengal Warriors, which meant that the latter will no longer be able to qualify for the semis. Telugu Titans' draw with Delhi, and favourable results in other games also meant that the Titans booked their place in the semi-finals as well. Patna Pirates trumped Bengaluru Bulls 30-28 to keep alive their hopes of moving past the league phase, while Jaipur Pink Panthers crushed Puneri Paltan 31-18 in their other game.
The results mean that Telugu Titans and U Mumba remain tied on points at the top of the table, although U Mumba have two games in hand. Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengaluru Bulls both have 31 points,with the former having played two more games than the Bulls. Dabang Delhi, Patna Pirates, Bengal Warriors and Puneri Paltan occupy the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight spots, respectively.
The best performers
Kashiling Adake was the best player for Dabang Delhi in the leg, as he picked up total of 49 points for his team. For Jaipur Pink Panthers, Rajesh Narwal grabbed 25 points from 2 games to help his team climb to the third spot in the standings. Meanwhile, Deepak Nivas Hudda and Rahul Chaudhari continued their good form as they helped Telugu Titans earn a tie against Dabang Delhi.
Next stop: Bengaluru
The season now moves on to its penultimate leg in Bengaluru, where the home franchise will have the opportunity of booking its semi-final place. With two spots up for grabs between five teams, this is an extremely crucial leg for the knockout aspirants. Patna Pirates, in particular, will have to win their two games in this leg to keep the pressure on Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengaluru Bulls.