Tamil Thalaivas win thrilling tie-breaker to advance to semifinals

Ajinkya Pawar wins a touchpoint for Tamil Thalaivas

Tamil Thalaivas made their way into the semifinals of PKL 9 in a thrilling tie-breaker win after the scoreline stayed level at 36-36 in their encounter against UP Yoddhas in the second eliminator at the Dome in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday. 

With five different raiders stepping up for each side and the baulk line doubling up as a bonus line, Thalaivas scored 6 points in the tie-breaker as opposed to the Yoddhas’ 4.

Tamil Thalaivas took an early four-point lead courtesy of Narender’s bonus points. The Yoddhas bridged the gap down to two points by the end of the first half as the scoreline read 14-16. Both sides remained cautious and didn’t try anything fancy before the change of sides as UP had only three men at their side. 

Surender Gill attempted a running hand touch but Ajinkya Pawar tackled him with a back hold to inflict the first All-Out of the game on the Yoddhas. The Thalaivas looked set to enforce another All-Out but Sumit initiated a wonderful Super Tackle to take Narender out of the mat. The Super Tackle inspired the UP raiders to a better show as the lead got narrowed down to two points with eight minutes remaining on the clock.  

Pardeep Narwal shrugged off the challenges from opposition defenders to trim down the Thalaivas men. Rohit Tomar pinned Narender to reduce the Thalaivas to one man as Ajinkya Pawar fell victim in the surrender raid. Narwal completed the turnaround by initiating his signature dubki to pick up three points in a Super Raid in the final minute of the match as the scoreline read 36-34 in favor of UP. 

Ashu Singh shoved Ajinkya Pawar quickly to get the Yoddhas in the touching distance of victory as they had a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. However, Arpit trapped Pardeep with a solid ankle hold to prevent him from crossing the baulk line. With one raid left in the game, Ajinkya Pawar maintained his calm and returned home empty-handed to take the game to a tie-breaker.

As Tamil Thalaivas raided first in the match, they raided first in the tie-breaker as well. Narender’s attempt to cross the baulk line was thwarted by Nitesh as he preyed on him with an ankle hold. It was time for Arpit to return the favour on Pardeep to level the scoreline for the Thalaivas.

After the turn of the defenders, it was time for the raiders to pick points as the scoreline read 2-2 after the next set of raids. Narender sneaked past the baulk line to win a point for the Thalaivas while Arpit responded with a solid ankle hold on Rohit Tomar to give them a two-point lead. Ajinkya Pawar successfully crossed the baulk line in the next raid as the Thalaivas resorted to pushing the next raider to maintain the two-point lead.

Himanshu stepped past the baulk line in the next raid but UP reviewed it in a last glimmer of hope. However, the replays clearly showed that Himanshu’s trailing leg was in the air while he crossed the baulk line to squash UP’s hopes. Surender Gill stepped up in the final raid of the match and required a super raid to win the tie for his side but Mohit sacrificed himself to push the raider onto his side. 

No one gave Tamil Thalaivas a chance of progressing to the playoffs at the halfway stage of the league as they lay second from the bottom. Although their key player, Pawan Sehrawat was injured in the first match, the likes of Narender and Himanshu stepped up to fill his shoes. 

The Thalaivas will take on Puneri Paltan in the second semi-finals on Thursday and will be eager to continue their fairytale journey in PKL 9.