Home team Bengaluru Bulls earned their first win of the 2023-24 Pro Kabaddi League when they beat UP Yoddhas 38-36 on Monday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru

Earlier, Arjun Deshwal scripted a brilliant comeback in the second half as Jaipur Pink Panthers beat Gujarat Giants 35-32 in the first match of the day. The Jaipur raider, who scored 15 points in the match, also reached the milestone of 700 points in his PKL career.

It was a slow and cautious start to the game from the home side who were soon placed on the backfoot through a super raid effected by Yoddhas’ Pardeep Narwal. Reducing the Bulls to just one man, Vikash Kandola needed to do something special to prevent the home side from being all-out within the first five minutes.

A super raid from Kandola brought back three players for the Bulls and while defending in the next raid, they effected a super tackle courtesy of Monu who took out Narwal. Right before the half-time buzzer rang, the Bulls had reversed the tables on Yoddhas in the 12th minute and got the first all-out of the game as Surjeet Singh simply carried out the Yoddhas raider with ease.

The home team entered half-time with a solid lead of seven points at 21-14.

The second half began with raucous cheers from the crowd at the Kanteerava Stadium who continuously egged on their players. The Bulls raiders in Bharat and Kandola were smart and strategic in their raiding while the Bulls defence lived up to their moniker. The Yoddhas were all-out for a second time in the match in the 29th minute and extended their lead to 30-21.

Yoddhas then regained their composure slightly and started to come back into the game through Narwal again. The veteran raider, who scored 13 points in the match, employed some quick footwork to try and recover some of the lead.

The resurgence strategy worked with Yoddhas effecting an all-out on the Bulls with just 40 seconds left on the clock. In the end, it was a matter of formalities as Surjeet denied Narwal any chance of a multiple-point raid and Bulls secured their first win of the season.

Panthers beat Giants 35-32

It was a tetchy start to the game from both sides as the scores were level at 5-all in the seventh minute. But a super raid from Giants’ Sonu helped to inject some momentum into the game, taking the score to 8-5 in favour of the team from Gujarat. Soon after, the Giants were able to get the first all-out of the match in the 10th minute and extend their lead to six points.

The Pink Panthers continued to remain on the backfoot throughout the first half, with star raider Arjun Deshwal being kept quiet by Giants captain Fazel Atrachali and his capable defense. The Pink Panthers coach then switched strategies right before a do-or-die raid and brought on No. 7 Bhavani Rajput.

Rajput got a touch on Sonu, but the Giants continued to hold on to their comfortable lead of eight points and went into half-time with the score 20-12.

The start of the second half saw Pink Panthers put on a display worthy of the defending champions. Rohit Gulia was tackled in the opening minutes of the second half as Deshwal started effecting better raids to reduce the gap in points at 24-23, still in Giants’ favour.

However, in his next raid, Deshwal enforced a super raid, reducing the Giants to one lone man and the all-out gave Jaipur a slim one-point lead at 26-25 in the 30th minute.

The Giants defence, led by Atrachali, soon started becoming sloppy and going in for early tackles which allowed Deshwal to rack up points. The Iranian defender himself was the victim of a successful Deshwal raid that left his team exposed. Rajput would then enforce another super raid in the 38th minute, extending Pink Panthers‘ lead and ensuring a solid comeback win for his team.