While reigning champions Jaipur Pink Panthers overcame a 13-point deficit to play out a 32-32 draw with Dabang Delhi, Gujarat Giants pipped Tamil Thalaivas 33-30 in their respective 2023-24 Pro Kabaddi League matches in Chennai on Wednesday.

Dabang Delhi dominated the proceedings right from the start as they wiped out the entire Pink Panthers team from the mat within the first eight minutes. The Dabang defence collectively pounced on Ajith Kumar and the side soared to a 10-4 lead.

They coasted along and maintained their lead, but star raider Naveen Kumar’s injury in the 14th minute posed a great concern. The injury notwithstanding, Delhi continued their dominance on the mat and inflicted a second all out in the 17th minute to lead 20-10.

Jaipur Pink Panthers’ star raider Arjun Deshwal could not manage a single touchpoint in the first half, while the Dabang Delhi defenders enjoyed a 100% tackle strike rate and led 23-11 at the break.

The young Ashu Malik, who scored seven points in the evening, took over the raiding responsibilities in Naveen’s absence and did admirably well. But, the Pink Panthers fought back.

Deshwal picked up a handful of bonus points for his side, while Ankush showcased one of the best defensive peformances of the season. Operating from the left corner, Ankush notched up seven tackle points in the match and brought the Pink Panthers within six points of Dabang Delhi, who led 26-20 with 10 minutes left in the contest.

Deshwal saved his best for the final few minutes as he got multiple raid points before deploying a superb ankle hold on Vishal Bhardwaj to inflict an all out at a crucial juncture. With a little over five minutes left, the Pink Panthers trailed by three points at 29-26.

Deshwal then got a touch on Manjeet a minute later to level the scores at 29-29 and the Pink Panthers made a remarkable comeback to erase a 13-point deficit.

It appeared like Dabang Delhi would sneak away with a narrow win, but an error from Vikrant, who stepped out of bounds before making a tackle, in the dying of the game saw the Pink Panthers get a point and level the scores again at 32-32.

Thereafter, Malik decided to run down the clock and settle for a tie.

Gujarat Giants pip Tamil Thalaivas

Later in the day, Gujarat Giants waded off a late fightback from Tamil Thalaivas to emerge on top in the final minutes of the contest.

In an early exchanges for the Thalaivas, Ajinkya Pawar came out firing on all cylinders and managed to take out Fazal Atrachali twice in the opening 10 minutes of the match. Despite that though there was nothing to separate the sides at the start, as they matched each other raid for raid.

However, the Giants seized control of the game a few moments later. A super tackle by Manoj on a rampant Himanshu Singh started a domino effect.

Within a minute with his first raid of the match, Parteek Dahiya picked up a super raid by taking out Sahil Gulia, M Abishek and Amirhossein Bastami to put the Giants in control. They went into the half-time break leading by three points.

A high-paced second half was played out mostly on the raid, with Pawar and Rakesh constantly keeping the scoreboard ticking for their respective sides.

The Giants’ defence rallied together soon to reduce the home team’s numbers and the first all out came in due course to extend their lead to 24-18.

The final minutes of the game saw some brilliant play, with Narender’s raid to take out Atrachali and his compatriot Mohammad Nabibakhsh, bringing the crowd to its feet. That raid drew the Thalaivas close to the Giants’ score.

But with two minutes left, a Sombir super tackle put the Giants back in control of the game. They ran the clock down easily to take the win in the end.