HYDERABAD: Haryana Steelers began their campaign in the VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 7 with an emphatic 34-24 win over Puneri Paltan here Monday.
Aided by an excellent performance from Naveen, who ended up with 14 points, the Steelers came out top of their rivals.
Puneri Paltan put up a spirited performance but when it came to crucial moments, it was Haryana Steelers that came out on top.
There was very little to choose between both teams, but Haryana showed immense mental strength to overcome their rivals.
Pawan Kadian got a super 10 for Puneri Paltan but his effort went in vain.
It was a special match as two of India's finest players -- Anup Kumar and Rakesh Kumar -- were pitted against each other.
Anup is now the coach of Puneri Paltan while Haryana Steelers are being coached by his long-time teammate Rakesh Kumar.
Puneri Paltan made a strong start as Pawan Kadian made a two-point raid to give them a 3-0 lead in the first few minutes of the match.
Haryana came back strongly to inch slightly ahead in the first five minutes.
It was an evenly-matched contest in the first 10 minutes, but Haryana Steelers shifted gears soon thereafter.
First, it was Naveen who picked up a few raid points to help Haryana Steelers inflict an all-out as they led 11-6 after 12 minutes.
Selvamani then produced a terrific super raid to extend Haryana Steelers lead.
Puneri Paltan suffered another all out in the 15th minute to trail 8-20.
At the end of the first half, Haryana Steelers were the dominant force and held a 12-point advantage to lead 22-10.
Puneri Paltan's Amit Kumar displayed a lot of courage as he continued his fine performance on the mat despite his head being bandaged.
The second half saw Haryana Steelers playing with great composure.
The Steelers paced their raids smartly and didn't give Puneri Paltan any to make a comeback.
Naveen continued to pick up raid points at regular intervals.
For Puneri Paltan, it was Pawan Kadian who chipped in with raid points but didn't get enough support from his teammates.
With less than five minutes to go, Haryana Steelers led 30-20 and were on course to a comfortable victory.
Puneri Paltan made a few efforts to mount a comeback but Haryana Steelers had the mental strength and didn't crumble under any pressure.
Puneri Paltan will begin their home leg on September 14 whereas Haryana Steelers will play their home leg in Panchkula starting September 28.