Gujarat Giants marched into the final of Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2, dethroning defending champions Odisha Juggernauts 29-27 in the first semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.
Ahead of the game, several guests took the mat, including Shri VK Pandian, chairman of 5T and Nabin Odisha, Shri Vineel Krishna, Sports Secretary, Odisha and Nasreen, the Arjuna Award-winning Indian Kho Kho team captain.
“Odisha is at the forefront of promoting and developing sports including indigenous sports like Kho Kho. Apart from having a franchise in Ultimate Kho Kho, it is also setting up a high-performance centre for Kho Kho with AM/NS India,” said Shri VK Pandian.
Odisha Juggernauts made a nightmare start to the match. They not only lost their review for the first innings within a matter of minutes but conceded five Dream Runs to the first Gujarat Giants batch of Suyash Gargate, Deepak Madhav and Shubham Thorat. With one member of the next batch staying unbeaten, the Odisha Juggernauts maintained a 10-5 lead after the first Turn.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts in Turn 2. The Giants' attackers went on a rampage, denying the Juggernauts any possible window to register a Dream Run. When the gathe Gujarat Giantss the Gujarat Giants who were in the ascendancy as they carried a nine-point advantage into the second half. The score stood at 19-10 in Giants' favour.
Come Turn 3, the Odisha Juggernauts showed there was still a fire in the belly. They dismissed the first two Gujarat Giants batches in just over four minutes. The likes of Dipesh More and Avinash Desai led the assault but it seemed too little too late. Despite an impressive comeback, Odisha Juggernauts went into the final Turn with a slender five-point lead.
The Gujarat Giants' attackers went full throttle as they withstood all possible late surge of confidence to seal a narrow 29-27 victory and put an end to Odisha Juggernauts' title defence.
What's next? While the Gujarat Giants will play the winner of semi-final 2, hosts Odisha will vie for a third-place finish to the season against the loser of semi-final 2.
Attacker of the Match: Sanket Kadam (Gujarat Giants)
Defender of the Match: Suyash Gargate (Gujarat Giants)
Ultimate Kho of the Match: Gowtham MK (Odisha Juggernauts)