Haryana Steelers beat Puneri Paltan 31-27 in the northerners’ final league stage match of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Tuesday. Prashanth Kumar Rai was Haryana’s best performer of the match with a game-high 12 points.
The first quarter of the contest was evenly fought with the scores tied at 7-7 after 10 minutes. Pune skipper Deepak Hooda was his side’s best raider during the opening stages and Rai was Haryana’s protagonist in attack early on.
Both sides played in a more circumspect fashion in the last 10 minutes of the half as they opted to bank on do-or-die raids for the majority of their points. In fact, the opening period ended with a successful tackle on Pune's Rajesh Mondal in a do-or-die situation to make it all square at 11-11 heading into the half-time breather.
The second half began similarly to how the first period ended with both teams still looking to capitalise on the do-or-die raids of their opponents. A two-point raid in the 26th minute by Hooda, which appeared to be giving the hosts the upper hand, was soon subdued by a super raid from Haryana’s Rai.
The Steelers then took the lead in the 28th minute but a super tackle by Pune soon after helped them wrestle back the lead from the visitors as the match entered the final quarter. Another super tackle in the 33rd minute by the Punekars afforded them a slender lead but Haryana were not going to give in just yet.
Soon it looked like the north-Indian outfit would in fact enforce the first All-out of the match. However, a super raid by defender Girish Maruti Ernak made it 23-20 in favour of Pune with five minutes to play. Haryana though did enforce the All-Out on Pune moments later to take a 25-24 lead with a little over four minutes left on the clock.
The closing stages of the encounter saw Haryana exhibit some resolute defensive work to quieten the crowd and see off Pune. Mondal and Ernak managed a raid and tackle point respectively to make it a one-point match in the penultimate minute. However in the end, the Steelers’ defenders held their own and Rai raided efficiently to seal maximum points.
Check out our snapshots from this match here.