The first leg of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5, played at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad, came to an end on Thursday. It had some closely-contested encounters, and then also some matches where one team totally outperformed the other. As the league entered its second leg at the Mankapur Indoor Stadium in Nagpur on Friday, we take a look at our top 5 moments that defined the Hyderabad leg.
1. Chaudhari’s super opening
Fans would definitely have had a lot of hopes from Telugu Titans in their home leg, and though the Titans had a disappointing run overall, their performance in the first game was definitely up to scratch. The inaugural match of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 saw Rahul Chaudhari stamp his authority as a raider all over it and score the first Super 10 of the season. Chaudhari didn’t seem to have any trouble taking apart the defensive line of Tamil Thalaivas consisting of Amit Hooda and C. Arun as he inched closer to the ‘500 raid points’ mark, which he finally achieved two games later.
2. Sheykh leading from the front
As the only foreign player to be named captain of a VIVO Pro Kabaddi side, Meraj Sheykh had a lot to prove in Dabang Delhi K.C.’s opening game in what was Match 3 of the season. They faced an experienced Jaipur Pink Panthers outfit led by One-Man-Army Manjeet Chhillar. Jasvir Singh and Pawan Kumar from the Pink Panthers made early inroads into the Delhi defence and looked to be taking the game away from Sheykh’s men. However, after overcoming initial jitters, the Iranian led from the front picking up 7 points and marshalling his team’s resources to perfection as Delhi fought back and pulled off a 30-26 victory.
3. The Adake super raid that proved decisive
U Mumba had failed to impress in their opening match against Puneri Paltan in spite of having one of the most destructive attacking combinations in the league. As a result they were under pressure in their next game against debutants Haryana Steelers. The Steelers, however, had the game under control for a long time thanks to captain Surender Nada’s defensive brilliance. It all changed in the second half though, when a moment of inspiration from Kashiling Adake saw him pick up three points and put the U Mumba outfit in the driver’s seat. They managed to hold onto a one-point lead till the end and emerge victorious.
4. Singh’s late surge against Gujarat
In spite of showing good intent in the team’s opening game, Surjeet Singh had failed to make the starting 7 for Haryana Steelers in their next fixture against fellow debutants Gujarat Fortunegiants. But with their main raider Wazir Singh failing to find form, the Steelers had to turn to the young raider, and boy did he take the stage by storm. Surjeet scored 6 points and was tackled successfully by the opposition defence only once. He and fellow raider Vikash Khandola infused some much-needed energy in Haryana Steelers’ attack and they walked away with a tie from what once appeared a losing situation.
5. Narwal exhibiting incredible skills
Double defending champions Patna Pirates have looked one of the most impressive sides in this edition of VIVO Pro Kabaddi so far. A huge part of the credit for this goes to their captain, Dubki King Pardeep Narwal. The kabaddi genius scored 15 points in the side’s opening game and followed it up with 12 in the next game to take the game away from home team Telugu Titans each time. In Thursday’s game, he looked to be in especially fine touch as he unleashed the entire gamut of his skills, displaying the jump, the kick and the running hand touch. His quest to be the only player to win the MVP title in back-to-back seasons seems to be on track thus far.