The opening day of the Haryana leg at the Motilal Nehru School of Sports in Sonepat witnessed two tied matches on Friday, which according to Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh was a sign of fierce competition this season.
Haryana Steelers weren't able to hang on to their big lead against Patna Pirates in the opening match of the night with the scoreline reading 41-41 at the end and later Gujarat Fortunegiants and U.P. Yoddha finished at 30-30. This was the third straight tie and overall 11th of Season 5 from the 68 matches so far.
"Today it was a win for kabaddi here at Haryana, the centre of the sport," said the Gujarat coach, "There are a lot of good players in kabaddi that hail from Haryana. The audience, the kabaddi lovers who come here and watch the match, they want to watch a good game of kabaddi. And in this season, all the teams are giving their best.
"As you've seen, one team takes a big lead, up to even 20 points but that match gets very close before the final whistle. And so many matches have been tied. Because of this, the level of kabaddi is rising, which is very good for the sport."
Even Patna coach Ram Mehar Singh looked at the bright side of the result against Haryana as the Pirates were trailing the Steelers by 16 points in the 32nd minute of the match. The massive deficit was wiped out thanks to the guile of Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat with the match going down to the wire.
"If you are not winning, and you get a tie, then you have to be satisfied with it," Ram Mehar Singh said, "Our two matches against Bengal [were situations where Patna were ahead but] we ended up tying one and losing the other by three points. That hurts more. It doesn't feel that bad today, like those days."
It was indeed a unique day for VIVO Pro Kabaddi, marked by an unusual guest. The U.P. Yoddha post-match press conference was attended by captain Nitin Tomar, coach J Udaya Kumar and the skipper's grandmother. "I felt very good. I watched him play for the first time up close," she said when asked about her experience. "I had seen him on TV many times before. He'll play great [in the remainder of the league]. He'll win. Our prayers are with him," she added.