Lucknow: The difference between Gujarat Fortunegiants and Puneri Paltan was like chalk and cheese as the Ahmedabad-based team rode on Iranian defenders’ tackling prowess to end Pune’s two-match winning streak of the Inter-Zone Challenge, in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 match on Tuesday.
As the Zonal action resumed after the week-long Inter-Zone Challenge following Monday’s rest day, Gujarat continued their dream run that began at home ten days ago and became the first team to break the 40-point ceiling.
The Iranian pair of Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani tackled almost every attacker with confidence earning 13 points between them in a low-scoring match that Gujarat won 35-21.
The seventh win for Fortunegiants helped the Gujarat team to widen their lead to 20 points and neared closer to possible knockout qualification though the league in only into the fourth of the 12-leg contest.
“We played this match as if it was a qualifier. We studied Pune’s win over Patna Pirates very closely and were prepared to tackle their game-plan,” said Gujarat captain Sukesh Hegde, who marshaled his soldiers well throughout the match.
Pune wasted much time in settling down and seemed rattled by quick points scored by Gujarat in the first half. Captain Deepak Hooda was hardly in his elements wasting too many raids and getting out as Gujarat’s confidence grew leaps and bounds.
Inexplicably, Pune coach BC Ramesh explained that his team wanted to earn through bonus points as raids failed to yield enough points.
“Gujarat played well much beyond our expectations. Our raids failed to earn us points and in the defence too we made mistakes so the strategy was to earn points through bonus points,” Ramesh said.
“Ours is a new team and we do not have any star players. But every one of the 19 players are good in their craft. Nobody is better than other. We are all equal and probably that is helping our team to perform consistently,” said Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh.
“After Pune had beaten Patna, we were guarded given that Pune had comprehensively beaten Patna in the first half before some rally in the second saw Patna close in. We didn’t want to leave it for the second half,” said Manpreet.
It was a battle of heavyweights, but the way game of kabaddi progressed and Gujarat took vice-like grip over the match, Pune was left to do catch up game.
The wretched streak of home team UP Yodha continued as Bengal Warriors scored 32-31 win in one of the closest match played so far in the Season 5. Bengal rode on Deepak Narwal’s 10 points even as Korean Jang Kun Lee won 4 points.