A cagey affair that went down to the last raid finished with Dabang Delhi and Gujarat Giants sharing the points after a 24-24 tie. Naveen scored his 24th straight Super 10, while raider Rakesh Narwal led the Giants with nine points.
The first half was a low-scoring grind where neither team could pull away on the scoreboard. The raiders on both teams were in spectacular form, with Giants’ raider Rakesh and Rakesh Narwal picking up points consistently and Naveen matching them point-for-point with some support from Vijay.
Both teams managed just a couple of tackle points in the first half, with the raiders offering little for the defences to feast on. The two teams combined for just 23 total points in the first half. They headed into the halftime break, with Delhi holding a slender one-point lead.
The defences continued to starve for points early in the second half, as the raiders on both teams managed to tick the scoreboard. Delhi threatened to pull away, building a three-point lead but were quickly pegged back courtesy of the Giants’ defence coming alive and the raiders continuing their excellent work.
A stellar tackle from Ravinder Pahal sent Naveen Kumar to the bench for the first time in the match, and the Giants even managed to reduce Delhi down to just three men on the mat. But they managed to avoid falling too far behind on the scoreboard courtesy of meaningful contributions from the defence and all-rounder Vijay.
With under a minute left in the contest, the Giants, who trailed by one point, forced a Do-or-die situation and Delhi opted to send Neeraj Narwal for the raid. Gujarat’s defence came through and pinned the raider down to level the scores. The Giants then sent Rakesh for their Do-or-die, and the young all-rounder delivered, forcing an error from the Delhi defence to give his side the lead.
With the game on the line, Naveen went in for a raid, aiming to pick at least a point to save the game for his side. Pahal, who had tackled him earlier in the game, advanced to deal the fatal blow, but Naveen was wise to it and leapt above the veteran corner to earn his side a point and a tie.
Bengaluru Bulls secure thrilling win
An ingenious substitution in the dying moments helped the Bengaluru Bulls beat the Bengal Warriors 36-35 in a high-scoring thriller on Sunday. Pawan Sehrawat was the Bulls’ leading scorer with 15 points, while Maninder Singh led the Warriors by example with 17 points.
Bengal got off to a strong courtesy of skipper Maninder, who picked up a couple of early points to give his side a 5-3 lead. The Bulls, down to four defenders, tried to pin Maninder down, but the superstar raider powered his way through the midline after tagging all four players for a six-point Super Raid that gave his side an 11-3 lead.
The Bulls responded strongly, courtesy of skipper Sehrawat, who forced two defenders off the court and then tagged three defenders before sprinting past the midline for a seven-point Super Raid that cut his team’s deficit down to just one. Bengaluru finished the half stronger and went into the halftime break leading by one.
The game was back-and-forth five minutes into the second half, but then the Bulls managed to pick a few unanswered points to reduce the Warriors down to just three men on the mat. Sehrawat took care of the remaining three players in two quick raids to help his side inflict an All Out and take the lead.
The Warriors responded to the setback in some style, taking just a few minutes to inflict an All-Out on the Bengaluru Bulls to cut their lead to just one point. Maninder’s two-point raid saw the Warriors reclaim the lead, but the Bulls’ defence and Sehrawat ensured the game remained close.
With a minute left and the scores level, Bulls coach Randhir Sehrawat made a bold move and subbed on Korean raider Dong Geon for his team’s penultimate raid. The decision proved to be a masterstroke, as the Korean picked up two points to give the Bulls the lead.
The Bulls’ defence smartly surrendered a raid point on either side of a game-clinching raid from Sehrawat to ensure they win a thriller by the narrowest margin.