The past week at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Balewadi in Pune witnessed a host of stellar raiding performances, from the league’s biggest names to its newest stars. But what headlined the week was a record-breaking defensive performance, which ranks the joint-best in vivo Pro Kabaddi history. Let’s take a look at that historic performance and more from the Pune leg:
1. A star is born in Pankaj Mohite
After sharing the limelight for most of the campaign with Manjeet and Nitin Tomar, raider Pankaj Mohite came into his own during the Pune leg and delivered solid performances over four matches during the past week. However, he saved his best for last and finished with a career-high of 17 raid points against reigning champions Bengaluru Bulls in his team’s 42-38 victory. Furthermore, the raider was tackled only once during the match in the penultimate minute, despite raiding 28 times. For his performance, Mohite earned high praise from kabaddi legend and Puneri Paltan coach Anup Kumar.
2. Pardeep’s prolific week in Pune
Since his incredible 26-point performance against Tamil Thalaivas, where he became the first to score 1000 raid points in vivo Pro Kabaddi, ‘Record-Breaker’ Pardeep Narwal has been in staggering form and delivered incredible performance in his team’s two outings in Pune. He scored 18 raid points in just 24 raid attempts in his team’s 55-33 victory over home side Puneri Paltan, before scoring 17 against Telugu Titans in a 42-42 tie in the penultimate game of the leg. Pardeep finished the leg as the leading point scorer among all players despite featuring just twice. He has also scored seven straight Super 10s and is just one game away from matching his personal best of eight successive matches with at least 10 raid points.
3. Neeraj Kumar’s historic defensive performance
While Pardeep Narwal continues to create history almost every passing week, he had the privilege of witnessing some in Pune, as his teammate Neeraj Kumar etched his name into the record books with an 11-tackle-point performance against Puneri Paltan in Match 92. He matched the record held by Manjeet Chhillar, who scored 11 tackle points against Bengaluru Bulls in Season 4. With that performance, he also climbed into the top 10 tackle point scorers of this campaign and is currently in the seventh spot with 47 tackle points.
4. Maninder Singh joins Pardeep Narwal in an exclusive list
After Haryana Steelers ended their five-match unbeaten run earlier in the campaign, Bengal Warriors returned the favour in Match 97, beating Haryana Steeler 48-36 to bring an end to their streak of seven matches without a loss. The star of the show for Bengal Warriors was, unsurprisingly, skipper Maninder Singh, who finished the night with 18 raid points in just 19 raid attempts. During the match, Maninder also crossed 150 raid points for the season and in doing so, became only the second man in vivo Pro Kabaddi history to score 150 raid points in three successive campaigns alongside Pardeep Narwal. Maninder’s incredible form has seen Bengal Warrior grab a foothold in the top 6 and also find themselves in a prime position to finish in the top 2 and make straight it to semi finals.
5. V Ajith Kumar’s magic helps Tamil Thalaivas salvage a draw
Trailing by eight with just over three minutes left on the clock, Tamil Thalaivas were seemingly on the brink of a ninth straight loss. But raider V Ajith Kumar had other ideas. The youngster picked a raid point in four successive attempts and reduced Puneri Paltan down to a solitary man with seconds left, before Tamil Thalaivas’s defence tackled the sole man in the buzzer raid to enforce an All-Out and salvage a tie. Ajith finished the game with 18 raid points, which is the highest by a Tamil Thalaivas player in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 7.