Cuttack: Gujarat Giants marched into the final of Ultimate Kho Kho Season 2, overcoming defending champions Odisha Juggernauts 29-27 in the first semifinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.
Gujarat Giants dominated the first innings as their opponents seemingly switched off. Odisha Juggernauts put in an improved show in the second half, but the nine-point advantage they conceded in the first proved too much to overcome. Suyash Gargate and Sanket Kadam were the pick of the attackers for Gujarat Giants with six points each.
“Odisha is at the forefront of promotion and development of sports including indigenous sports like Kho Kho. Apart from having a franchise in Ultimate Kho Kho, it is also setting up a high performance centre for Kho Kho with AM/NS India,” said VK Pandian on the occasion.
Odisha Juggernauts made a nightmare start to the match. They not only lost their review for the first innings within a matter of minutes but conceded five dream run points to the first Gujarat Giants batch of Suyash Gargate, Deepak Madhav and Shubham Thorat. With one member of the next batch staying unconquered, Odisha Juggernauts led 10-5 after the first turn.
Things went from bad to worse for them in Turn 2. The Gujarat Giants attackers were rampant, not letting their opponents have a single dream run point. At the end of the first innings, their team had a nine-point advantage with the scores standing at 19-10 in their favour.
Odisha Juggernauts, though, came back strongly in Turn 3. They sent back the first two Gujarat Giants batches in just over four minutes. The likes of Dipesh More and Avinash Desai suddenly seemed infused with energy. That seemed too little too late though as, despite an impressive comeback, Odisha Juggernauts went into the final turn with a slender five-point lead. The Gujarat Giants attackers overcame that with ease in the final turn.