Saturday was a night to remember for Patna Pirates as they made amends for their previous two losses to Gujarat Fortunegiants by defeating them when it mattered the most and lifting the VIVO Pro Kabaddi trophy for a record third time. Their journey had a few ups and downs before they made their way to the summit. Here is a look at the road to the trophy for the Pirates.
Good start and losing grip before getting it back
After three successive victories, Patna Pirates lost their way a little. They were held to a draw by U.P. Yoddha before being handed their first defeat of the season by the defensive force of Puneri Paltan. They then had to face defeats to Bengal Warriors and U Mumba before getting back to their winning ways and going into their home leg on a high.
Home leg success
Patna Pirates had one of the most successful home legs of the season as they went undefeated till the final game against U.P. Yoddha where they were handed their first loss. They consistently scored above 35 points in each and every one of their games and were well on their way to win the last match as well before running into the attacking combination on Nitin Tomar and Rishank Devadiga. Pardeep Narwal was the top-scorer and scored a Super 10 in every match except for the one against Tamil Thalaivas where he was held to 9. The Pirates juggernaut was well on its way to the playoffs.
The Gujarat Challenge
Patna Pirates were looking like they would cruise through the season before their campaign was dealt a huge blow by Gujarat Fortunegiants. Patna had to face two consecutive losses to the Fortunegiants owing mainly to their defensive failures which kept them from topping Zone B. They had to be content with a second-place finish in their zone which meant that they would have to fight their way through two eliminators and a qualifier before staking their claim for a third title triumph. Once it became clear that Gujarat were in the final after their winning effort in the first Qualifier, it looked like an uphill battle for Patna’s title defence.
Pardeep Narwal’s record-breaking effort
Patna captain Pardeep Narwal peaked at the right moment for the Pirates. He scored 76 points in just 3 playoffs games to pave the way for a Patna-Gujarat clash in the final. He was especially dominating in the second eliminator against Haryana where he broke the record for the most points scored by an individual in a single game by returning 34 points and edging previous record holder Rohit Kumar. He also reached 350 raid points in the season and was head and shoulders above the next raider in the list of the league’s top raiders. With the final ‘panga’ all set up, it was a battle between the famed Patna attack led by the season’s top-scorer against the mighty Gujarat defence with the imposing Iranian corners.
Pardeep Narwal’s records in season 5:
The final ‘Panga’
There was little to choose between the two teams in the final. Gujarat started off as favourites as they came into the contest having won 7 straight contests, including handing Bengal Warriors a 42-17 drubbing in the first qualifier. However, Patna were not far behind and Pardeep’s record effort against Haryana meant that the team’s morale was at an all-time high. The clash started off with Gujarat claiming an early lead but once the Dubki King found his groove there was no stopping the Patna charge. The Pirates claimed the lead at half time and there was no looking back for them from there. They brought home a third straight VIVO Pro Kabaddi title with a 55-38 win over Gujarat Fortunegiants and will go into Season 6 as defending champions yet again.