MOHALI, NOV 22 : United Singhs shocked hot contenders Khalsa Warriors by 58-55 in the nail-biting final of the inaugural Wave World Kabaddi League at the Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium here tonight. The win also fetched them a prize of Rs. 1.80 crores and the glittering trophy.
United Singhs, who had only 12 wins in the first phase as compared to 17 by Khalsa, trailed for three quarters of the match before pulling the run from under the feet of Khalsa Warriors. The scores were level at 53-53 before United inched ahead and kept their nose in front.
In the third place play-off earlier, California Eagles beat Vancouver Lions 66-57.
The runner-up Khalsa Warriors got a cheque of Rs. 90 lakhs while California Eagles got Rs. 45 lakhs and the fourth placed team Vancouver Lions received Rs. 21 lakhs.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the chairman of the WWKL said he was extremely happy that an Indian sport like kabaddi was now global. Mr Badal also referred to the World Cup Kabaddi Punjab-2014 that India has been hosting for the past four years and the next edition is due next month.
Co-owner of United Singhs, film star Sonakshi Sinha, said she was thrilled at the success of her team. She added she was proud of the way her team had fought back despite their rivals taking a big lead at the start. “I am sure they will go all out to successfully defend the title next year,” she said.
Khalsa, who opened a huge lead in the opening minutes at 7-1 kept the lead, though it kept decreasing from 18-11 in first session to 29-27 in second and then 43-42 after the third. AT the end of the match, it was United who were 58-55 ahead.
Before the final began, Amrinder Gill, the well-known Punjabi singer, who sang in the successful film, ‘Happy Go Lucky’ put the crowd in the right mood to enjoy the Grand Finale between the top two teams of the Wave WKL.
As the final began, Khalsa were off to a great start as Gagandeep Singh Jogewal got off to a successful raid, followed by a fine stop by Gurpreet Singh and then Jasmanpreet Raju’s successful raid meant a 3-0 start for Khalsa Warriors.
Khalsa were so dominant that barring one stop from United’s skipper Sandeep Singh Sandhu, who stopped Khalsa’s Yugraj Singh, they won seven of first eight points. Gagandeep’s fine raids as also those of Manjot Singh Gill meant Khalsa kept pulling away.
But United fought back gamely to narrow the gap to 11-15 mainly on the strength of their Stopper, Sandhu and raiders, Gagandeep Nagra, Navpreet Kumar and Lovepreet Sangha. Despite the fightback from United, Khalsa Warriors were ahead by a fair margin 18-11 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, United continued their comeback on the back of their stoppers, Sandhu, Gurvinder Kahlon and Baljit Kooner as also raiders Navpreet Kumar and Lovepreet and one point they had reduced the lead to 19-21 and 20-22. Thereafter the lead stayed in the narrow range of two or three points. And, when the second quarter ended, the gap had been narrowed to two points as Khalsa led 29-27.
Into the third quarter, the tussle became even tighter in the early stages as United came to 29-30, before Khalsa won two points, one from a stop by Gurpreet Singh and another from a raid by Jasmanpreet Raju.
Again Khalsa pulled ahead 34-30, but United came back strongly to level at 36-36 with a successful raid by Navpreet and a stop by Sandhu. The see-saw battle continued as Lovepreet for United and Jasmanpreet for Khalsa won their raids and the trend continued till 38-38, before another successful raid by Lovepreet and a stop by Gurvinder Kahlon gave United Singhs a 40-38 lead for the first time.
However Khalsa fought back once more to level at 40-40 and then as Lovepreet’s raiding streak was broken by Khalsa stopper, Jagdeesh Singh, Khalsa were back in lead at 41-40 and they stretched it to 43-41 before Lovepreet’s successful raid closed the third session score at 42-43 as Khalsa hung onto a slender edge.
With the match hung in such fine balance, the two teams were neck and neck at 45-45 and then again 46-46. As Gurpreet Singh stopped Lovepreet once more and Khalsa’s Manjot Singh Gill made a successful raid, Khalsa were again ahead at 48-46 and then 49-47 with Navpreet for United and Jasmanpreet for Khalsa winning their next raids.
However as the match entered the final moments, Khalsa once again made a fine bid Jasmanpreet again coming back with a good raid and Karamjit Lasarha making a good stop and after a raid from either side Khalsa again opened a handy lead at 52-48.
The fight continued as United won a raid each by Lovepreet and Navpreet and two stops by Gurvinder and Sandhu to level matters again at 52-52 and then 53-53.
Successful raids by Navpreet and Lovepreet with a good stop in between by Gurvinder Kahlon turned the table at 55-52 in favour of United. The lead stayed at three points for United at 57-54 and then after a successful raid by Gagandeep Jogewal for Khalsa, Lovepreet again came back victor from a raid to ensure final score of 58-55 for United Singhs.
The crowd, which had begun rooting for the underdogs, United Singhs, who fought back from the early, went delirious as the hooter went off to crown United Singhs as the first Wave World Kabaddi champions.
Best Raider of the tournament: Manjot Singh Gill (Khalsa Warriors)
Best Stopper of the tournament: Sandeep Singh Sandhu (United Singhs)
Sonalika Power Raid of the day: Navpreet Kumar (Khalsa Warriors).