Hyderabad, July 22: Haryana Steelers started their campaign in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) 2019 on a confident note as they defeated Puneri Paltan by 34-24 here at Gachibowly Indoor Stadium on Sunday (July 22).
The match was coaching debut for two former India captains Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar. While Rakesh's Haryana Steelers displayed all-round show on the mat to give him a perfect start to the new role, Anup Kumar - who retired from all formats in the previous season - didn't have a memorable first game a coach.
The Pune-based franchise was no match to their Haryana counterparts and despite getting a neck-to-neck start, they allowed the opposition to surpass them early on in the game. As a result, Paltan always had catching up to do which they couldn't till the end and eventually lost the match by 10-point margin.
Haryana Steelers defenders and raiders performed as a team as they inflicted a run-out on Puneri Paltan in the 11th minute of the first-half and extended lead to 11-6.
Raider Selvamani K grabbed three points in the 14th minute of the match and took Steelers' lead to almost double and they never looked back from that stage.
Puneri Paltan were all-out for the second time in 15 minutes and Steelers extended the lead to 20-8.
With the first half ending in their favour, Steelers slowed things down in the second half to not let Paltan make a comeback. They kept picking up points at regular intervals and didn't allow complacency set in even as Paltan raiders tried to breach their defences on a couple of occasions.
Only positive for Paltan was their raider Pawan Kadian who showed some resistance in the raids and picked up some points. While young raider Naveen emerged as the star for Haryana Steelers as he completed a Super 10 in his first match of the season.
Paltan's defence looked weak from the start and clueless while it was impossible to breach Steelers' defence all through the game. Paltan also badly missed the services of their five-star raider Nitin Tomar who neither found a spot in the starting XI nor came in as a replacement. It could be attributed to one of those strategies of Anup Kumar who has always controlled the matches with his astute strategies.