Manjeet Chhillar’s all-important tackle in the dying seconds ensured Jaipur Pink Panthers returned to winning ways with a 27-26 victory against Tamil Thalaivas at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Ajay Thakur’s match-high 13 points weren’t enough to see Chennai over the line as Jaipur handed the hosts their second straight home loss.
Both the teams started tentatively after their last-match losses. Thakur was successful in the very first raid of the match but fell prey to Jaipur’s first raid where Pawan Kumar escaped his tackle attempt. The scoreline ticked on with a series of do-or-die raids dictating terms but Tushar Patil’s two-point raid on two occasions ensured Jaipur finished the first quarter with an 8-6 lead. However, they lost their ace raider Selvamani K again to a knee injury.
Jaipur kept their momentum steady by picking up three straight successful raids to reduce the Thalaivas to one man on the mat. However, Thakur was in no mood to succumb to an All-Out, and kept his team afloat through a successful raid and super tackle in quick succession. But Chennai eventually fell to the first All-Out of the match in the closing minutes of the first half to enter the breather trailing 15-17.
With only two points separating them, both teams allowed their defence to take over in the second half, and attacked only during do-or-die raids. Dong Geon Lee was introduced into the mix by the Thalaivas to aid in the raiding department. However, Thakur continued to be in his element and completed his Super 10 by pulling off back-to-back raid points in do-or-die situations to ensure both the teams entered the last quarter tied at 20-20.
The last 10 minutes was a story of Jaipur ensuring they kept a two-point lead, while the Thalaivas attempting to close the deficit through quick bonuses. The closing minutes became a riveting tale of tackles and raids pouring in from either end but Chhillar unleashed great skills in the last minute to tackle K. Prapanjan which took the steam off the Thalaivas fightback. Even with a last successful super tackle, the Thalaivas fell short by one point to succumb to their second consecutive home defeat at Chennai.
Check out our snapshots from this match here.