Day 9 of Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) was full of juicy encounters. In the first game of Thursday, Odisha Juggernauts stole a win against Rajasthan Warriors by a scoreline of 51-45. Thereafter, in the second contest, Gujarat Giants overpowered Telugu Yoddhas by 51-48 in an exciting finish at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Pune.
Match 17: Odisha Juggernauts vs Rajasthan Warriors
Odisha Juggernauts won the toss and invited Rajasthan Warriors to attack first. The Warriors took a Powerplay to get off to a decent start and cleaned up Odisha’s first Batch of Defenders in 1:32 seconds. The Juggernauts’ Batch 2 Defenders survived for more than three minutes and accomplished a four-point Dream Run to open their account. The Warriors’ Attackers looked slow on the mat after this show from the Juggernauts’ Defenders, but eventually got a 17-point lead with the help of five Sky Dives and three running touches.
The Warriors had only 14 defending points before the start of this game. The Juggernauts looked overambitious and took the Powerplay at the start of this Turn, but we saw some amazing defending skills from one of the Warriors’ best Defenders, Akshay Ganpule who completed a Dream Run for his side. The Warriors looked like a different side in the defence as their second Batch of Defenders completed a four-point Dream Run. The Juggernauts' Attackers had a hard time rocking the Warriors. Rajasthan Warriors found themselves in the lead for the first time at the end of the first inning in this tournament as they secured a six-point lead.
We saw a different body language from the Warriors as they were adding bunches of three-point shots in the attack to extend their lead at the start of Turn 3. Dipesh More, the Juggernauts’ captain looked committed as he bridged the gap for the Juggernauts by adding a six-point Dream Run to their tally. The Warriors made too many errors in this Turn and ended up repeating the same mistakes. The Warriors had only a 16-point lead going into the final Turn.
The Warriors needed a Dream Run to maintain the lead, but the Juggernauts’ Attackers looked charged up to clean up Rajasthan’s Batch 1 Defenders with all three-pointers. Odisha took the Powerplay to take control over the game but Akshay Ganpule was spectacular in the defence, adding a Dream Run to the Warriors’ kitty. However, this wasn’t enough for them as Odisha Juggernauts turned the tables in the dying moments and won by a six-point margin against Rajasthan Warriors to go top of the table.
Attacker of the Match: Nilesh Jadhav
Defender of the Match: Dipesh More
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Hrushikesh Murchavade
Match 18: Gujarat Giants vs Telugu Yoddhas
Gujarat Giants won the toss and decided to defend first. It was a perfect start for Gujarat Giants when Sagar Potdar from Batch 1 Defenders got them a Dream Run. The Yoddhas took a Powerplay with the in-form Giants Defender, Aniket Pote coming on the mat in Batch 2, but the Defender continued his magic and got a Dream Run for his team. The Yoddhas looked a better side in the first seven minutes of the match and got a 19-point lead against the Giants.
The Giants looked in command and wiped off Yoddhas’ first Batch of Defenders in just 36 seconds. After which, Pratik Waikar led the Yoddhas from the front when he came in Batch 2 and scored a two-point Dream Run. Now with Batch 3 Defenders on the court, the Giants took the Powerplay but Rohan Shingade managed to run off with a Dream Run for the Yoddhas. There was nothing much to differentiate between the two sides in this Turn. The scoreline remained level at the end of the halfway mark with 27 apiece.
Gujarat’s Batch 1 Defenders achieved a four-point Dream Run against a sloppy Telugu attack. To counter this, the Yoddhas took the Powerplay, hoping to extend their lead and scalped the second Batch of Defenders in two minutes. At the end of the third instalment, the Yoddhas amassed 19 attack points with the help of three Sky Dives and five Running Touches in this Turn to have a 15-point advantage.
This clash promised to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller in the final Turn. The Giants had a job on their hands and they tried to keep coming in the attack but Arun Gunki had enough steam left to get a valuable Dream Run for the Yoddhas. The Giants’ Attackers pushed themselves in the remaining three minutes and took over the lead just in time to close down the game by the scoreline of 51-48 in their favour to move to second place on the points table. Telugu Yoddhas also picked up a point after the three-point loss against Gujarat Giants.
Attacker of the Match: Ranjan Shetty
Defender of the Match: Aniket Pote
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Sachin Bhargo