It was a lightning show of Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Pune on Friday. In the first encounter, Gujarat Giants looked invincible against Chennai Quick Guns and registered a win by a 50-44 margin to become the first team in UKK history to book a playoff berth. In the second fixture of the day, a dominant Mumbai Khiladis defeated Telugu Yoddhas by a scoreline of 54-46 and avenged their first leg loss.
Match 19: Chennai Quick Guns vs Gujarat Giants
Gujarat Giants won the toss and chose to defend against Chennai Quick Guns. Amit Patil, the Quick Guns’ skipper opened their account in the attack with a three-point Sky Dive. The Giants’ signalled their intentions with a four-point Dream Run courtesy of their Batch 1 Defender, Nilesh Patil. The Giants dented the Quick Guns’ planning with another four-point Dream Run by their second Batch of Defenders. The Giants were superb in the defence and got eight points in this Turn while the Quick Guns could only manage to get a 11-point lead at the end of the first instalment.
The Giants carried the momentum when they came into the attack. They were swift and took over the lead with Chennai’s Batch 1 and 2 on the mat. However, the Batch 3 Defenders were a class apart from the other Batches as they stunned the Giants with a four-point Dream Run when the Powerplay was on. The game looked even at the end of the first inning with the 26-23 scoreline in Gujarat’s favour.
Chennai Quick Guns had to turn it on from here to make a move when it was their second attempt in the attack. However, the Giants did not give them room and were on a roll in the defence when Jaggananath Das added a six-point Dream Run to their credit. The Quick Guns needed big points to make it count but had only registered a 10-point advantage at the end of Turn 3.
In the final Turn, Abhinandan Patil, the Giants Attacker completed 50 points in UKK. The Giants took the Powerplay against Batch 2 Defenders and took the lead, but before the end of the Batch clock, K Ram Mohan scored a Dream Run for the Quick Guns. This Dream Run wasn’t enough for Chennai to keep the Giants quiet. Gujarat Giants closed the game with a scoreline of 50-44 against Chennai. The Giants not just moved to the top of the table with this win but they also became the first team to book a berth in the UKK playoffs.
Attacker of the Match: Akshay Bhangare
Defender of the Match: Amit Patil
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Jaggannath Das
Match 20: Mumbai Khiladis vs Telugu Yoddhas
Telugu Yoddhas won the toss and asked Mumbai Khiladis to attack first. The Khiladis took the Powerplay to give themselves a perfect start as they wrapped up the Yoddhas’ Batch 1 in 67 seconds. The Batch 2 Defenders got the Yoddhas off the mark with a four-point Dream Run. With four Sky Dives and four Running Touches, the Khiladis had an 18-point lead at the end of this Turn.
The Yoddhas looked decent in the attack against the Khiladis’ Batch 1 Defenders but Vijay Hajare, the Khiladis’s captain and Batch 2 Defender added a Dream Run to Mumbai’s tally. Gajanan Shengal, the Batch 3 Defender stood tall for 2:36 seconds and completed another Dream Run for the Khiladis. It was a see-saw battle at the end of the halfway mark as the score read 26 each.
Mumbai took the lead at the start of this Turn. Durvesh Salunke continued his incredible form and completed 50 points in UKK when he came to attack for the Khiladis. The Khiladis were brilliant with the Khos and made it difficult for the Yoddhas’ Defenders to survive. The Khiladis scored 24 points to take their tally to 50 points whereas the Yoddhas couldn’t add points to their score before moving into the final Turn.
The Yoddhas had to play out of their skins to give themselves a chance. The Yoddhas came up and running and scored 9 points with all three-pointers against Mumbai’s first Batch Defenders. Thereafter, the Yoddhas took the Powerplay to go all guns blazing but Khiladis had other plans in their mind as the Batch 2 Defenders evaded the attack with a four-point Dream Run. With such an outstanding performance in a close finish, Mumbai Khiladis remain in the race for the top four. They claimed a win by a scoreline of 54-46 against Telugu Yoddhas.
Attacker of the Match: Durvesh Salunke
Defender of the Match: Vijay Hajare
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Gajanan Shengal