VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5’s last eliminator was played between the winners of the first two eliminators - Puneri Paltan and Patna Pirates - at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. The match began on even ground before Pune lost their nerve in the closing minutes as Pardeep Narwal ran riot to take Patna to Qualifier 2 after a 42-32 win.
The match was heavily tilted in Pune’s favour at the end of the third quarter before Narwal produced his magic through a four-point super raid and began Patna’s incredible comeback. At the post-match press conference, Pune coach BC Ramesh chalked the defeat up to defensive failures. “We were confident that we will win against them. They have only two raiders who are performing and their defence is not that strong. We were confident till the 30th minute of the game that we will win as we had the lead but because of some miscalculations and mistakes from the defence we lost,” he said.
One of the best defensive units in the league this season, Pune surprisingly crumbled in the face of Patna’s late fightback after putting up a solid show in the first half an hour. The coach continued: “Sandeep Narwal made some mistakes in the last seven minutes of the match and started to lose his focus. I told him to play carefully which will benefit the team but he made mistakes. In the do-or-die raid, the decision was not in our favour, otherwise the lead would have been up to 14 points. And then when Monu Goyat came to raid we gave him two points and thereafter four points to Pardeep.”
Despite the result on Tuesday, Puneri Paltan had a fairly good season having finished second in Zone B, and Ramesh agreed with that observation. “It was a successful season for us. In the last league-stage match against Gujarat, if we had won then we could have gone on to play Bengal but it’s about luck as well. Overall, it was a great season for us. We finished second in our zone which is a big thing for us,” he concluded.