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Aslam stars as Puneri Paltan stun holders Jaipur Pink Panthers

BALBIR SINGH | December 05, 2023 08:36 AM

AHMEDABAD: Puneri Paltan produced a brilliant all-round display to stun defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers 37-33 at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Monday. Arjun Deshwal (17 points) and Aslam Inamdar (10 points) were the key performers of the day.

Puneri Paltan got off the blocks well as they raced to a 6-3 lead when Iranian all-rounder Mohammadreza Shadloui Chiyaneh trapped Ajith Kumar in the sixth minute. However, the Panthers clawed their way back into the game through their raiders. Arjun was a constant threat to the Puneri defence, but it was Ajith Kumar who made the difference as he got the better of Abinesh Nadarajan and Mohit Goyat in a superb raid to inflict the ALL OUT in the 14th minute.

The Panthers had a comfortable 14-10 lead and it was the first time they had taken the lead in the game. Arjun went on to grab points in each of his next three raids to ensure the Panthers held on to their four-point lead at the half-time interval.

Arjun resumed where he left off as he picked up two points in the very first raid of the second half to bring up his PKL career’s 36th Super 10. Just when it appeared that the Panthers were in the ascendancy, Puneri Paltan mounted a solid fightback. Aslam starred with a two-point raid to reduce the opposition to two men and Shadloui followed it up with an iron-clad double thigh hold on Arjun to get the all out.

With 25 minutes played, Puneri Paltan had reduced the deficit to two points at 21-23. A couple of successful raids from Aslam and a huge tackle from Sanket Sawant on Ajith saw them draw level at 25-25 in the 30th minute.

The men in orange dictated terms thereon as frequent points from Shadloui, one from a tackle and one off a smart pursuit raid, saw Puneri Paltan bag yet another all out. Puneri Paltan enjoyed a healthy six-point lead with five minutes left on the clock.

Arjun put up a valiant effort to bring his side back into the game, but there was little he could do as Aslam brought up his Super 10 and led Puneri Paltan to victory on his captaincy debut.

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