Defensive masterclass sees Odisha Juggernauts down Rajasthan Warriors in Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2
Cuttack, January 3, 2024: Defending champions Odisha Juggernauts notched up a 32-21 victory over Rajasthan Warriors, in Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Cuttack on Wednesday.
The victory was built on the back of a stellar defensive performance by Odisha Juggernauts that saw them score 10 dream run points. Ultimate Kho Kho, promoted by Amit Burman in collaboration with the Kho Kho Federation of India, became the first Indian sports league to secure Series A funding, courtesy the UK-based BNP Group.
Odisha Juggernauts defenders seized the initiative in Turn 1 with perhaps the greatest defensive performance in Ultimate Kho Kho history. The first batch of Vishal, Gowtham MK and Dilip Khandavi stayed on the mat for a whopping six minutes and 22 seconds, scoring seven dream run points. Dilip, in particular, ran rings around the Rajasthan Warriors attackers. With all three players of Odisha Juggernauts’ second batch remaining unconquered, they took a 7-6 lead into Turn 2. It was the first time in Ultimate Kho Kho history that a defending team had taken the lead in a turn.
Rajasthan Warriors set about limiting the damage in Turn 2, with their first batch of Vijay Hajare, Sushant Hajare and Vrushab Wagh notching up three dream run points. With only one member of the second batch getting out, Odisha Juggernauts’ lead, going into the second innings, was limited to six points.
Rajasthan Warriors made a strong start to Turn 3, sending back Odisha Juggernauts’s first batch early. However, they were frustrated by the second batch of Dipesh More, Nikhil B and Omkar Sonawane, with the latter staying on the mat for three dream run points. That left Rajasthan Warriors with a slender 21-18 lead going into the final turn. The Odisha Juggernauts attackers had no problems overturning that in Turn 4.
In an earlier game, Telugu Yoddhas stamped their dominance over an off-colour Mumbai Khiladis, notching up a 40-22 victory. This was the biggest margin of victory this season as Telugu Yoddhas leapfrogged Gujarat Giants into second place.
It was Telugu Yoddhas who attacked first and they made the most of it, scoring 16 points in Turn 1 while only allowing their opponents a single dream run point. It was a team effort from the Telugu Yoddhas attackers, with six different players contributing to their team’s tally.
They consolidated that advantage with a stunning defensive display in Turn 2. Their first batch of Pratik Waikar, Avdhut Patil and Aditya Ganpule stayed on the mat for five minutes and 17 seconds, garnering five dream run points. All three members of their second batch managed to remain unconquered as the first innings finished with Telugu Yoddhas leading 21-7. It was the lowest attacking turn of Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2.
It was always going to be a long road back from there for the Mumbai Khiladis and their fortunes did not change for the better in Turn 3. Their first batch lasted a mere minute and 33 seconds. Their third batch, consisting of Hrushikesh Murchavade, Sibin M and Pratik Devare, did fare better, scoring a dream run point. But that made little difference to the overall picture as Telugu Yoddhas went into the final turn with a mammoth 29-point lead.
Thursday will see Telugu Yoddhas take on leaders Chennai Quick Guns while Gujarat Giants will take on Rajasthan Warriors. The exciting action of Ultimate Kho Kho will be telecast on Sony Sports Network’s channels and SonyLiv with live coverage of two matches daily starting at 7.30pm IST.