Bengal Warriors’ hopes of a spot in the Pro Kabaddi League playoffs were ended on Wednesday as they lost a tight game 26-29. Later in the day, Dabang Delhi beat Tamil Thalaivas 45-43 in another close encounter at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata.

The Warriors’ loss means that sixth-placed Haryana Steelers need to win just one game over the final leg of the season, which they will host in Panchkula, to seal the final playoff spot.

Season 7 champions Warriors needed a fast start to the game if they were to have any chance of qualifying for the next stage of the competition. Instead the Puneri Paltan raced into a lead, and inflicted an all out before the Warriors could register a point on the board.

The speed of their point accumulation was swift and they had the Warriors on the ropes again soon after, the points coming from every player in the Paltan side, in attack and defence. A super tackle by Harsh Lad on Akash Shinde prevented a second all out, but did little to cut the gap between the two teams. With Maninder Singh restricted to a single point in the half, Paltan went into the break leading 18-9.

In a sudden turn of form though, the Warriors came out much the stronger in the second period, and within the first five minutes had chipped away to reduce the Paltan's numbers on the mat. Nitin Kumar's super raid to take out Pankaj Mohite and Tushar Adhavade added the gloss as they inflicted an all out of their own to cut the gap down to four points going into the final quarter of the game.

The Warriors threw all they had towards getting a positive result, and even had the Paltan close to an all out once late in the game. Their defence though kept leaking points when it mattered, and in the end the deficit proved too much in the end as Paltan locked up a close victory.

Dabang Delhi beat Tamil Thalaivas

In a high-scoring contest, Dabang Delhi overcame a 13-point deficit to clinch a hard-fought 45-43 win over the Tamil Thalaivas. Ashu Malik was Dabang Delhi’s star as he finished with 18 raid points, as did Tamil Thalaivas’ Narender.

Tamil Thalaivas raced off the blocks in style with an all out inside the opening five minutes. Narender ran through the Dabang Delhi defence and the raiders were on song as Tamil Thalaivas soared to a 9-2 lead.

The Chennai-team scored another all out to climb to a 22-9 lead by the 15th minute.

Dabang Delhi, who have already qualified for the playoffs, failed to get going as captain Ashu Malik was the only one who kept the scoreboard ticking. The defence had a poor outing and leaked points aplenty as Tamil Thalaivas went into the interval leading 25-14.

Malik’s men made a good start to the second period as they inflicted an all out in the 24th minute and reduced their deficit to just five points at 25-20. However, their hopes of a comeback were dashed by some brilliant raiding from Narender. The youngster starred with a multi-point raid, bagged a Super 10 and led his side to an all out that propelled them to a 12-point lead at 34-22.

While it looked like the odds were stacked against them, Dabang Delhi produced a miraculous comeback. It began with a super raid from Meetu Sharma and then Malik switched gears as Dabang Delhi clinched an all out at 33-38 with six minutes to go.

What followed was a raiding masterclass from Malik as he got the better of every Tamil Thalaivas defender to level the scores at 38-38 and then a splendid tackle from Manu on Narender in the 39th minute awarded Dabang Delhi an all out and the lead at 43-42.

Malik grabbed his 18th point of the game in the final raid as he climbed to the top of the standings for the season’s best raider and Dabang Delhi bounced back to winning ways.