Things heated up at the Senior National Championship on Thursday as the tournament reached the business end. Karnataka took out Pardeep Narwal’s Uttarakhand 51-31, Maharashtra beat the Rahul Chaudhari-led Uttar Pradesh 44-36, Haryana emerged victorious against Rajasthan 31-29 and defending champions Services won by a 51-40 margin against a strong Railways unit at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.
Karnataka, led by seasoned U Mumba veteran Shabeer Bappu, clashed with the much-fancied Uttarakhand unit which had players such as Dubki King Pardeep Narwal, Sunil Kumar and young, dynamic all-rounder Nitin Rawal in its ranks in the first quarterfinal of the night. It was expected to be a close match but in the end Karnataka cruised to an easy 20-point victory on the back of Haryana Steelers’ star raider Prashanth Kumar Rai’s quick raids, which saw him bag 20 points.
The second quarterfinal saw Raid Machine Rahul Chaudhari’s Uttar Pradesh fall to Rishank Devadiga’s Maharashtra after a close fight. Uttar Pradesh lacked a lot of quality players and were heavily reliant on captain Chaudhari to do the job for them. They fought well till the end against a strong Maharashtra team with the likes of U.P. Yoddha raider Rishank Devadiga, Patna Pirates’ Sachin Shingade and U Mumba’s Do-or-Die specialist Nitin Madane in the line-up but were unable to topple the team from the west. It was neck and neck till a long time before Madane pulled off a brilliant Super Raid and was backed up by Devadiga, allowing Maharashtra to take control.
Perhaps the closest fought match of the night, though, was the battle between Captain Cool Anup Kumar’s Haryana and Rajasthan. Despite an early setback, the star-studded Haryana team with senior players like One-Man-Army Manjeet Chhillar, Haryana Steelers captain Surender Nada and Bengaluru Bulls’ main defender Ravinder Pahal in the unit, were able to make a comeback and win by a slender two-point margin. Puneri Paltan skipper Deepak Hooda and Haryana Steelers’ Wazir Singh led the fight for Rajasthan but the combined effort of the Haryana seniors was just too much for them to handle.
The final quarterfinal match was between defending champions Services and a young Indian Railways unit. Railways pressed from an early advantage through Dabang Delhi K.C. front man Rohit Baliyan but were eventually overwhelmed by the brilliant display of kabaddi from the Services team. Monu Goyat starred for Services with a Super 10 in the match and was ably supported by the defence consisting of Bengal Warriors captain Surjeet Singh, Bengaluru Bulls’ cover Mahender Singh and Patna’s young gun Jaideep. Baliyan and Rajesh Mondal put the pressure on Services but the vast experience of Services was enough to fight off the challenge.
The semi-finals will now see Karnataka take on Maharashtra and Services fight it out against the experienced Haryana outfit.
Watch the match live on the Star Sports Network and Hotstar 5:45 pm onwards.