LUDHIANA, Punjab: Punjab Thunder completed a brilliant fight-back as their late-night appeal against the last point being awarded to Khalsa Warriors was upheld by the Technical Committee of the Wave World Kabaddi League on Sunday, resulting in the first tie as the Wave World Kabaddi League made its long-awaited arrival into Punjab, widely considered as the Home of Kabaddi.
The reversal of the final point led to the final result being revised to tie at 58-58, making it the first tie of the Wave World Kabaddi League.
Khalsa Warriors’ Jasmanpreet Singh ‘Raju’ set off for the last raid with his team holding a one-point lead at 58-57 with barely 15 seconds left on the clock in Match No. 17 on Saturday evening. The powerful Jasmanpreet, one of the key raiders of Khalsa Warriors, was challenged and then locked into a hold by Yadwinder Singh, a three-time Best Stopper this season.
In the initial decision, Jasmanpreet’s raid was adjudged successful as the umpire on the court felt the defending team, Punjab Thunder had ‘double-touched’ meaning two stoppers had touched the raider in an effort to stop him.
With the second match due to start in few minutes, the replays and the appeal were decided after the second game late into the night.
Multiple replays in the presence of the managers and coaches of both teams and the Technical Committee of the Wave WKL, finally resulted in a decision that upheld Punjab Thunder’s stopper Yadwinder was indeed successful in stopping Jasmanpreet and that there was no ‘double-touch’.
This resulted in the point being reversed. So, Punjab Thunder were awarded the point instead to make the final result in a heart-stopping 58-58 tie at the Hockey Ground in Punjab Agricultural University in the heart of Ludhiana on Saturday.
Pargat Singh, Commissioner of the Wave WKL, said, “We heard out both the teams and then the Technical Committee saw the replays a number of times before arriving at the final decision. Both teams are satisfied and it is great to see how closely fought the matches are and how intense the competition has become. The fans of Punjab were indeed thrilled to have such a start to the Wave World Kabaddi League on their soil this weekend.”
The tie also ended Khalsa Warrior’s winning streak. They now have four wins and one tie for nine points from five games, while Punjab Thunder with two wins, one tie and two losses have five points from the same number of games.
Khalsa Warriors led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter and then 33-25 at half time. By the end of the third quarter they seemed well on way to a fifth win as they led by nine points at 48-39. But Punjab Thunder had other ideas.
The two teams were given a standing ovation and the players hugged each other as they walked away from the court to the thunderous applause from the 8,000-odd spectators.
Punjab Thunder’s star raider, Sultan Singh, was adjudged the man of the match for his superb performance and he was also the Sonalika Power Raider of the day. Sultan’s tally of 26 points equaled the previous best of 26 by his own teammate Talwinder Singh, who achieved it against Royal Lings USA last week in Delhi.
The Best stopper was Khalsa Warriors was Gurpreet Singh Manki with seven stops.
As Khalsa Warriors opened the final quarter with a 48-39 lead Punjab Thunder led by raiders Sultan Singh and Talwinder Singh produced a brilliant comeback. Khalsa Warriors did hold their nerves in the crucial stages as the gap in last four minutes never exceeded three points and became as little as one.
When Jasmanpreet came out for the final raid for Khalsa Warriors, there were barely a few seconds left and the drama became even more intense. Khalsa Warriors were first awarded the point and then it was taken away after the protest from Punjab Thunder and the final result was declared as a 58-58 tie late in the night.
Raiders Gagandeep Jogewal, Talwinder Singh and Yugraj gave Khalsa Warriors the strength from the first quarter itself and stopper Gurpreet Singh ably supported them. For Punjab Thunder, raiders Sultan Singh, Jasmanpreet Singh and stopper Lakhwinder Singh were the stars.
For the second time in the day, it was a close match, but this time California Eagles did not let up and went through to win.
Both California Eagles and Vancouver Lions have two points each from five matches.
California Eagles, winless since the start of the League, opened with a sense of purpose. With Sukhpal contributing five successful raids and Balkar Singh making to two successful stops, California Eagles were 16-13 up in first quarter. The same duo Sukhpal (nine raids in two quarters) and Balkar (four stops in two quarters) saw California Eagles lead 31-25 at half time.
California Eagles, who led by three after first quarter and then by six after second, made it eight points by the end of the third quarter. Even as Balkar Singh was the star stopper for California Eagles, Gagandeep Sabrawa was the most successful raider with 14 raids till then for Vancouver Lions.
Once again as in the first match, the gap seemed to narrow down as the end neared, and was down to four points with less than a minute to go, but California Eagles made no mistake and romped home victors by 58-52. Gagandeep finished with 21 successful raids to emerge as the Sonalika Man of the Match also though his team lost the match.
(Report and photos courtesy World Kabaddi League)