Sunday proved to be a fun day in Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) for all of us as it was filled with two power-packed matches at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Pune. Odisha Juggernauts cemented a seat in the top two with a marvellous 48-39 win against Telugu Yoddhas in the first game of the night. In the second contest, Gujarat Giants held their nerve to register a dramatic 42-40 win against Rajasthan Warriors in a match that went down to the wire.
Match 23: Odisha Juggernauts vs Telugu Yoddhas
Odisha Juggernauts won the toss and elected to defend first. The Yoddhas looked in good rhythm as they cleaned up the Juggernauts’ Batch 1 Defenders in 2:18 seconds. Pratik Waikar, the Yoddhas captain took the powerplay with the objective to add more points to their score against the second Batch of Defenders, but Odisha almost escaped the attackers and missed out by only five seconds to complete a Dream Run. Telugu Yoddhas scored three Sky Dives and a Pole Dive to make it 20 to nil at the end of the first seven minutes.
The Juggernauts took the charge in the attack and scored all three-pointers against Telugu’s Batch 1 Defenders. Pratik Waikar led the Yoddhas from the front and scored a two-point Dream Run and missed out on scoring a four-point Dream Run by a whisker. The Juggernauts looked gassed out in the attack and managed to get rid of only one Defender from Batch 3. The Yoddhas had only a four-point lead at the end of the inning break.
In the crucial third Turn, the Juggernauts recovered well in the defence as Subhasish Santra accomplished a Dream Run before his exit. The Yoddhas took the Powerplay against the best defensive team of the tournament but the Batch 2 Defenders, especially Vishal looked mighty impressive to complete a six-point Dream Run. Odisha’s Defenders kept themselves in play and scored eight points in the defence to cut down the deficit to just 11 points at the end of this Turn.
The Juggernauts were in the driving seat coming into the final Turn and were looking good against the first Batch of Defenders until Avdhut Patil got a consolation Dream Run for the Yoddhas. After this, the Juggernauts took the Powerplay and wiped off the Yoddhas quickly to level the score 39 apiece. Telugu Yoddhas were made to wait for the next game to confirm a playoff berth as Odisha Juggernauts won by a scoreline of 48-39 to make it six victories in a row.
Attacker of the Match: Gowtham M K
Defender of the Match: Vishal
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Adarsh Mohite
Match 24: Rajasthan Warriors vs Gujarat Titans
Gujarat Giants won the toss and decided to defend first. The Warriors had a watchful start as they cleaned up Gujarat’s Batch 1 Defenders well in time as they fell short by three seconds to complete a Dream Run. Rajasthan went for the hunt by taking the Powerplay and the second Batch of Defenders fell prey to them in no time. The Warriors mustered 17 points in the attack whereas the Giants failed to open their account in the first Turn.
The Giants were on fire when they came for their first attempt in the attack as Rajasthan’s first Batch of Defenders didn’t last long and were dismissed in less than two minutes. With the Powerplay on against Batch 3, the Giants took over the lead but the Batch managed to add defensive points to their kitty courtesy of a Dream Run. There was only one point separating the two sides at the end of the first half with the score reading 20-19 in Gujarat’s favour.
In Turn 3, Sagar Potdar picked up the first Dream Run of the game for the Giants. The Warriors had a job at their hands in the attack but they could only manage to amass 17 attacking points in this Turn. The Giants Defenders looked miser in the defence and didn’t commit any error. At the end of the third installment, the Warriors had a 14-point advantage over the Giants.
The Giants went for the kill in the final Turn when they returned to attack. The Warriors’ Defenders tried to extend their stay on the mat but Gujarat levelled the score 36-36 when they took the Powerplay against Batch 2. Akshay Ganpule, the Warriors captain, looked to keep his team in the hunt when he completed a four-point Dream Run in the dying moments of the game. Rajasthan Warriors had something to cheer about when they added a point even after a 40-42 loss against Gujarat Giants.
Attacker of the Match: Hrushikesh Murchavade
Defender of the Match: Akshay Ganpule
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Abhinandan Patil