Pune: Puneri Paltan made a satisfactory start to their campaign at home when they held current leaders Patna Pirates 30-30 in an exciting tie of the third Pro Kabaddi League here yesterday.
The result gives three points each to both the teams and Patna Pirates were now at the top with 28 points. The top clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex saw a battle within a battle and the two protagonists were Pardeep Narwal and his ex-captain at Bengaluru, Manjit Chhillar.
Pardeep, who finished the match with 11 raid points and a solitary one from a tackle, had the measure of the towering rival as many as five times in the match. Pardeep's heroics saw the Patna Pirates score the first all-out in the 10th minute for a handy 12-4 lead. But Puneri Paltan retaliated by the 17th to inflict the same fate on their rivals to narrow down the deficit to 13-16.
The other battle was between the two leaders Manpreet of Patna Pirates and his opponent Manjit Chhillar. Manpreet didn't lead from the front like the temperamental Manjit but his calming influence on his mates and his strategy to run down the clock with empty raids paid full dividends.
The absence of Sandeep Narwal and Rohit for Patna and Depak Hooda and Surjeet for the hosts did rob the tie of some excitement but the end result was fair to both.
Manjit with two crucial tackles on specialist Rajesh Mondal and substitute Gurvinder Singh was responsible for doing damage towards the break.
As things looked to even out, Pardeep came up with a super raid that gave him three points. And the hosts seeming to catch up with three points coming through their debutant raider Surinder were kept behind a fair distance at 20-16 in the first half.
The Patna Pirates kept their nose ahead till almost the dying minutes. Pardeep continued his good work while Rajesh Mondal failed and his substitute Sunil Jaipal who had crossed over from the Bengal Warriors also couldn't make any impact.
The Pune defence came up with a few good tackles. Manjit after changing places in defence finally got his tormentor Pardeep twice with some help from Jasmer and Ravi Kumar. Manjit was spot on today on three occasions. All the reviews were crucial but the last one decided the fate of the match and saved the hosts from a certain defeat.
Ajay Thakur went in for the penultimate raid for his team in the last 3-4 minutes. He was tagged by D Suresh Kumar and the umpire gave both of them out for going off the court. But Manjit felt otherwise. The review yielded them 2 vital points and more importantly Ajay was declared to be safe. That made it 30-30 and it stayed so finally.