Deepak Hooda was the star performer for season 1 champions Jaipur Pink Panthers as they defeated Gujarat Giants 36-31 in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8, here on Monday.
Hooda scored a Super 10 (11 points) in a win that will help Jaipur in the race for a Playoff spot and top-6 finish. He was supported well by the Panthers’ defence. Sandeep Dhull scored four points while Deepak Singh and Vishal chipped in with three each.
Gujarat Giants had levelled the scores in the dying stages of the second half, but Jaipur’s experience helped them navigate carefully in a tense situation. Raider Rakesh Narwal scored eight points for Gujarat while cover defender Parvesh Bhainswal scored four.
Jaipur started the match on the front foot with Arjun Deshwal and Deepak Hooda taking turns to raid. But Gujarat slowly got back into the match as their raider duo of Ajay Kumar and Pardeep Kumar got into the game. The much-famed Gujarat defence struggled to stop the Jaipur raiders while at the other end Jaipur started finding form.
Rakesh Narwal ensured Gujarat escaped with a few points and delayed an all-out. Parvesh Bhainswal and Girish Ernak then combined to execute a Super Tackle for the Giants. But Jaipur eventually clinched that all-out with one minute to half-time. They opened a six-point lead with scores 20-14 at half-time. The Giants had just three tackle points as opposed to Jaipur’s eight.
Jaipur started the second half with the desire to inflict another all-out on Gujarat. But the Giants clinched two Super Tackles to temporarily change the balance of the match. Parvesh Bhainswal rushed for four tackle points while Iranian Hadi Oshtorak a 25th-minute substitute for Ajay Kumar — also impressed. The Giants reduced Jaipur’s lead to just 3 points with 10 minutes remaining.
Gujarat clinched their all-out with seven minutes on the clock to level the scores. But Jaipur showed their champion DNA as Deepak Hooda and Arjun Deshwal stepped up a gear. They helped Panthers open a five-point lead with under two minutes remaining.
Sandeep Dhull’s strong tackle on Pardeep Kumar all but confirmed a victory with Gujarat left with no star raider to bail them out. Deepak Hooda then picked up two points in the final raid of the match to clinch a Super 10 and win the match.