Putting up a valiant fight, Telugu Yoddhas – the GMR Sports-owned Kho Kho franchise, had to accept a narrow 45-46 defeat to Odisha Juggernauts in the final of Ultimate Kho Kho 2022.
A game that started on a slow note slowly took an exciting turn by the end of the first innings. The Ultimate Kho Kho 2022 final was a true testimony of skill, talent and strategies as both Telugu Yoddhas and Odisha Juggernauts left no stones unturned in their efforts to get their name etched as the first ever winners of the Ultimate Kho Kho League.
Telugu Yoddhas lost the toss and were put to attack by Odisha Juggernauts. From the start, the Juggernauts put the Yoddhas under pressure with 10 crucial Dream Run points in Turn 1. Rohan Shinghade's two Sky Dives and Pratik Waikar's Running Touches ensured that Telugu Yoddhas finish Turn 1 on even terms with Odisha Juggernauts at 10 points each.
Turn 2 started saw Odisha Juggernauts wipe out two of Telugu Yoddhas defenders in the first two minutes. However, Telugu captain Pratik Waikar thereafter stood tall to his reputation earning the first two Dream Run points in the turn. Telugu Yoddhas, thereafter, made a strong comeback through eight Dream Run points thanks to the trio of Adarsh Mohite, Rohan Shinghade & Arun Gunki.
While the Juggernauts could only earn 13 points when in attack, it was the Telugu Yoddhas who sent a clear message that the finals were far from over with a crucial 10-points worth Dream Runs. Turn 2 came to an end with the score line reading 20-23 to the favour of Odisha Juggernauts.
Telugu Yoddhas came back full throttle in Turn 3 of the Ultimate Kho Kho League 2022 final. Rohan Shinghade and Sachin Bhargo, with support from other attackers, added 21 crucial points to their score line while giving away just four Dream Run points. Telugu's strategy in Turn 3 stunned Odisha Juggernauts, as they earned points through three-pointers to finish the penultimate turn of the match with a 14-point lead and the score at 41-27.
With a target of 15 points to chase, Odisha Juggernauts did not expect the final turn to have such a close finish. While Odisha Juggernauts tried hard to take the lead, but, Telugu Yoddhas came back strong with four Dream Run points. For every moment where Odisha Juggernauts leapt forward, the Telugu Yoddhas defenders fought like true warriors and made the chase harder.
With one minute and 24 seconds to go, the Odisha Juggernauts needed three points to take a lead. And to the dismay of Telugu Yoddhas, their opponents grabbed the winning points in the final seconds of the game. The turn and the game finally came to an end with Telugu Yoddhas becoming the runners-up of the inaugural Ultimate Kho Kho League upon losing the game 45-46 to Odisha Juggernauts.
Telugu Yoddhas' Arun Gunki was adjudged the Best Attacker of the game while Odisha Juggernauts Dilip Khandvi & Vishal were given the Best Defender & Ultimate Kho of the match award. Deepak Madhav of Telugu Yoddhas was awarded the Best Defender of the Tournament.
Speaking after the game Sumit Bhatia, Head Coach, Telugu Yoddhas said, “It is heart-breaking, but the boys fought like warriors, and had it not been for that one last touch in the final few seconds we would have seen a different result. In all, it was one of the most entertaining games of the league so far and I would like to congratulate Odisha Juggernauts for becoming the first ever Champions of Ultimate Kho Kho.”