UP Yoddha kick-started their VIVO ProKabaddi season 6 campaign, dominating hosts Tamil Thalaivas at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai. The high-flying Thalaivas, who beat reigning champions Patna Pirates a night before, were compelled to bite the dust – courtesy the compact moves of our defenders and the cunning game-play of our raiders. With a final scoreline of 37-32, we were off to a top-notch start on Monday.

The defenders showed impeccable coordination, to get hold of Ajay Thakur in their ‘Do or Die’ raid, while Shrikant Jadhav’s next raid bore them another point. Surjeet Singh’s raid was made unsuccessful by the brilliant tackle of our defenders. Led by the double Ns, Nitesh Kumar and Narender, UP Yoddha got Tamil Thalaivas ‘All Out’ with a 10-0 scoreline.

Thalaivas did not manage a point until the 8th minute of the match. Prashanth’s raid went unsuccessful, as the Thalaivas got hold of him deep on the mat. Though the Thalaivas managed a couple of points, Prashanth dove to bag 2 crucial points to maintain our supremacy on the mat and during half-time, UP Yoddha dominated with a 18-4 scoreline.

The 2nd half started with a non-raid technical point awarded to us. Though Thalaivas managed a bonus point with Amit Hooda’s raid, we got Thalaivas All Out once again, getting to a scoreline of 23-5. Our raiders kept fetching points, increasing the lead. Prashanth managed 2 crucial points with a brilliant use of his height, despite being held, while Shrikant escaped the unplanned attack of Thalaivas’ defenders, managing a point in a ‘Do or Die’ raid.

Our aggressive gameplay compelled the Thalaivas to play defensive and resort to bonus points. But the Thalaivas soon pulled off a brilliant comeback, winning 11 points within 5 minutes. They got us ‘all out’, but our confidence was barely impacted. Our Yoddha were back in the rhythm with consecutive successful raids by captain Rishank, and Nitesh’s timely ankle holds.

Though the Thalaivas kept the scorecard ticking with bonus points in every raid, our Yoddha maintained the lead throughout the match.

Thalaivas bounced back yet again, getting us all out for the second time. But once all seven were back on the mat, Yodhha looked rejuvenated, and got the opponent captain Ajay Thakur out in the very next raid.

With 57 seconds to go, the game stood 35 – 31 in our favour, but Yoddha made no mistake from here on. With two last-minute technical points, UP Yoddha sealed the match with a 5-point lead. Prashanth Kumar remained the most successful raider for us, with 8 points while Narender’s 4 points was the most among our defenders.