Star-studded Services were unable to defend their Senior National Kabaddi Championship title against a young Maharashtra side led by Rishank Devadiga, falling to a 29-34 defeat at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.
Patna Pirates’ raider Monu Goyat kept the Maharashtra defenders on their toes throughout the match and scored a Super 10 but his efforts weren’t backed up by the tacklers as Services went down.
Rishank Devadiga, who won his team the semi-finals, continued from where he left off and started with a Super Raid. He found able backup in Nilesh Salunke and the two inflicted the first All Out of the night on Services about midway through the first half giving their team a 13-4 lead. It looked like an uphill battle for Services, with corner defender Girish Maruti Ernak scoring 4 tackle points and making things difficult for their raiders. However, Monu Goyat took control of the game once he was revived and brought his team back into the match. On the brink of an All Out, Devadiga rescued his team once again and gave them a 17-12 lead going into half time.
Goyat cleaned up the remaining Maharashtra players early in the second half and brought his team close with the score on 19-17. He completed his Super 10 in the process and brought the score difference down to a solitary point. Devadiga kept the pressure on from the other end though, and scored his own Super 10 soon after. The game remained neck and neck from there till substitute Tushar Patil scored twice for Maharashtra in a do-or-die situation to break the back of the Services defence. Devadiga finished with yet another Super Raid from there to see Maharashtra through to the title.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra sealed a thrilling last minute 35-34 victory against Karnataka in the first semi-final of the night. Going in for a do-or-die raid with the scores level in the closing seconds of the match, Maharashtra captain Rishank Devadiga held his cool and managed to pick up a vital touch to take his team through to the finals. However, it was the Maharashtra defence that really shone through as defenders Viraj Vishnu Landge from Dabang Delhi K.C. and Girish Maruti Ernak from Puneri Paltan turned up the heat on the Karnataka raiders and scored a High 5 each. A late fightback by K Prapanjan took the match down to the wire in the end but Devadiga proved his class and brought all his experience into play to steal victory from Shabeer Bappu’s Karnataka.
The second semi-final saw defending champions Services clash with the experienced Haryana outfit and emerge victorious with a 32-28 score line. Services were in complete control of the match throughout as cover defender and Bengal Warriors skipper Surjeet Singh gave nothing away to the Haryana raiders. It was a match dominated by the defenders with Haryana’s Ravinder Pahal scoring a High 5 in an attempt to pull things back for his team. But the constant pressure the Haryana raiders were under gave Services the victory in the end. Captain Cool Anup Kumar, who had been the hero for Haryana, also failed to score big and that thwarted any hopes of a Haryana comeback.