National champions Maharashtra men staved off a strong challenge from Rajasthan to register a 52-49 win in their second Group A encounter and book their semi-final berth in the Federation Cup Kabaddi tournament here. In a topsy-turvy encounter that saw the lead change hands more than three times, the hosts rode on their skipper Rishank Devadigas raiding ability and substitute Girish Irnaks catching prowess to ultimately emerge victorious at the SRP ground in suburban Jogeshwari. Irnak, who did not start due to an injury, was fielded in the last five minutes with the team trailing 43-45 and responded by bagging four important points with his catching.
Devadiga, on the other hand, won 13 points from 21 raids and was well supported by Nilesh Salunkhe (11 points). Rajashthans Sachin scored 13 points from 13 raids but got injured in the second half and that affected the teams momentum during the final exchanges. Maharashtra will now face Haryana to decide the winner from the group. In Group B, Services came back from a two-point deficit at halftime to drub Indian Railways 41-29. However the Railways players kept their composure to beat Karnataka 47-46 in the days other match to keep alive their hopes of making it to the knock out stage. In the womens section, Maharashtra women face a do-or-die battle in their last league encounter against the formidable Railways after they lost to Haryana 41-35 in their second Group B encounter. The hosts, who had won their opening encounter against Kerala, saw Shraddha Pawar and Sayali Keripale getting caught during the business end of the match and paid the price for the failure of other raiders to raise the bar when it mattered. Keripali scored 10 points and Pawar earned six points for Maharashtra, while Priyanka (10 points) and Sakshi (7 points) were the star performers for Haryana. In Group A, national champions Himachal Pradesh defeated Chattisgarh 43-24 while Punjab kept their knockout hopes alive with a 27-15 victory over Uttar Pradesh.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)