It couldn't have been a better ending to the league phase of the Pro Kabaddi League season. On the last day of the final leg in Pune, Patna Pirates and Jaipur Pink Panthers faced each other in what turned out to be a semi-final playoff. Trailing Jaipur by one point in the league standings, Patna Pirates needed a win to qualify for the semis.
The Pirates started off strongly and raced to a 18-9 lead at the midway stage of the game. The defending champions, however, came back into the game, and with three minutes left, Patna's lead was trimmed down to just 2 points, as the scorecard read 23-21 in their favour. Patna Pirates, who finished third in the tournament last season, managed to hold on, to pull off a 26-24 win, thus knocking last year's champions out of the tournament in the process.
Thrilling end to PKL league phase
With three teams already having qualified for the semis, and Jaipur Pink Panthers five points ahead of fifth placed Patna Pirates, the final leg of the Pro Kabaddi Leg in Pune looked set to be a drab affair. However, things changed when Jaipur endured an agonizing 38-39 defeat at the hands of Bengal Warriors on 16 August, and Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 38-21 two days later.
These results set the stage for the semi-final playoff on the last day, which Patna won to advance to the last four. In other games, Puneri Paltan beat Dabang Delhi 33-28 in their first home game, but were beaten by scorelines of 34-39, 21-38 and 30-31 by U Mumba, Patna Pirates and Bengaluru Bulls, respectively, in the next three. A weakened U Mumba team, meanwhile, endured a 25-46 loss at the hands of second-placed Telugu Titans.
The best performers
Pradeep Kumar was the standout performer for U Mumba, despite the team not performing particularly well in the last leg. Prashant Rai, Isac Antony and Rohit Baliyan were the standout performers for Telugu Titans in the team's win over U Mumba. Sandep Narwal and Tae Deok Eom, meanwhile, shone for Patna Pirates in the team's two wins.
Next stop: Mumbai
The season now moves back to Mumbai this weekend, with the semi-finals set to take place on Friday, 21 August. High-flying U Mumba will face Patna Pirates in the first semi-final, while Telugu Titans and Bengaluru Bulls will face off in the other semi-final game. The final of the tournament will take place on Sunday, 23 August.