Patna: Sukesh Hegde and Prashant Rai starred in Telugu Titans' fifth win in Pro Kabaddi League Season 2 as they overpowered Patna Pirates 34-22 at the Pataliputra Sports Complex here on Thursday.
The win takes the Titans' tally to 26 points as they retained their second spot in the table. Patna with only one win under their belt in four matches stay in the last position with just seven points.
The teams were level in the initial stages with the lead changing hands. The half-time score of 13-12 in favour of the visitors promised a humdinger of a contest but the hosts simply collapsed under the relentless pressure exerted by the Titans' attacking duo.
Today's performance by Sukesh and Prashant has opened up further options for the Titans which will set alarm bells ringing for their opponents.
To compound the Pirates worry, the Titans' left corner Sandeep was in irresistible form coming up with frontal blocks and waist holds to gobble up rival raiders Rakesh and Ravi Dalal to lend excellent support.
The Pirates had a good start with Rakesh showing glimpses of his class. He had good support from young Sandeep Narwal who came up with two raid points and a good catch to help his team remain in the hunt.
For the Titans their star and last season?s leading raider Rahul Chaudhari was totally off-colour and so was Deepak Nivas Hudda, their second string raider who also doubles up in defence.
But as they say cometh the hour cometh the man, Sukesh Hegde rose to the occasion. He effected a super raid to send his team up 12-9 much to the surprise of his team mates and the partisan Patna crowd. That was the turning point because the Titans never looked back thereafter although Patna raised the expectations of their fans.
Substitute Girish Ernak and Rakesh Kumar managed a super tackle each to wrest the lead 16-15 in the 25th minute. But it was again Hegde who did the damage. He sent out Ravi Dalal at a crucial juncture after which strode Prashant Rai on stage. He dominated from then on to take his tally to eight points with a couple of raids ended with two points each. This resulted in the second all-out for Patna and effectively snuffed their hopes of making a comeback at 33-19 in the 37th minute.
In the post-match press conference, both team owner Rajesh V Shah and captain Rakesh Kumar were optimistic of better fortunes for their team. "This was the opening game of our home leg. We will not lose confidence after this loss to Telugu Titans," said Rajesh V Shah on his team's loss.
Veteran Rakesh Kumar was realistic about the reasons his team lost to Telugu Titans tonight: "We were poor in both departments of offence and defence tonight but we fought till the last minute. We should learn from this loss because we have 10 matches left to make a comeback and this is not the end. Ravi Dalal and I have had a tough start to the tournament but this is just the beginning and the team will come back strongly. I am working hard every day and so is my team.
"We need the support and faith of our Patna fans to move on and get better results. Currently, we are in talks with the Kabaddi Federation in Bihar to carry out actions that will uplift the sport of kabaddi in the state."
The star player for Telugu Titans, Sukesh Hegde was ecstatic about his team's momentous run in Season 2 so far, "I am proud of the team and the work that they put in this game today to win. We have enjoyed playing in Patna and are looking forward to our encounter tomorrow with Bengaluru Bulls."
Regarding Rahul Chaudhari's early substitution in the game, Sukesh was appreciative of Rahul's efforts in Season 2 so far. "Yes, he was substituted for a while today but he is an amazing player. Any player has their good and bad days and unfortunately today wasn't his day."