UP Yoddha pulled off a big upset when they edged defending champions Bengaluru Bulls 35-33 in a close encounter at the TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad on Monday to reignite their Pro Kabaddi campaign.
The UP Yoddha defence led by impressive right corner defender Nitesh Kumar kept the in-form raiding duo of Pawan Sehrawat and Rohit Kumar at bay to clinch a thriller in the end. Sehrawat still managed 15 points on the night, but was also dismissed on five occasions as Yoddha made the most of the time he spent on the bench.
Raiders Shrikanth Jadhav and Monu Goyat, who’ve had fairly quiet seasons by their standards, stepped up to the plate, scoring 17 points among them.
Rohit Kumar and Sehrawat made good starts to the encounter, plucking away bonus points to give Bengaluru a 6-1 lead after four minutes.
Goyat then inflicted a super tackle on Rohit Kumar before scoring a two-point raid to get the UP side within a point of the champions.
With both teams playing on the third raid, the game remained in the balance until Jadhav and Goyat rocked the Bulls’ defence. Sehrawat was left to wage a lone battle as UP Yoddha completed their first all-out in the 16th minute. However, Sehrawat’s bonus streak meant the Bulls remained level at 13-13 despite suffering the all-out.
The two sides were locked at 15-15 at the interval but Bulls, who had a stronger raiding unit on paper, seemed to have the edge.
Both sides slowed the game down in the second half, playing only on the do-or-die raids. However, Yoddha substitute Mohsen Maghsoudlou picked up two crucial points in a do-or-die raid to give Yoddha a 19-18 lead in the 24th minute.
In the next raid, Yoddha’s Ashu Singh, who was having an inspired afternoon, sent Sehrawat back to the hut before Jadhav struck in another do-or-die raid to tilt the balance in favour of UP.
Goyat and Jadhav stuck to their tasks to inflict another all-out on Bengaluru and stretch their lead to 27-21 with nine minutes to play.
While Sehrawat earned Bengaluru crucial points in his raids, their defence, which was rattled by Jadhav and Goyat, kept leaking points at crucial stages as Yoddha maintained their advantage.
Sehrawat scored two two-point raids on the 35-minute mark to give the Bulls hope again but skipper Nitesh Kumar removed the dangerman in the next raid to give UP Yoddha much-needed breathing space with four minutes to play.
Bengaluru’s Sumit Singh kept them in the hunt with three points in two raids before Bulls came within a point of UP Yoddha after trapping Goyat in a do-or-die raid late on.
However, an acrobatic tackle from Yoddha’s Sumit on Sehrawat put UP Yoddha 34-32 in front with just two minutes to play. Rohit Kumar again reduced the deficit to one point in the penultimate raid of the game, but Jadhav held his nerve in the buzzer raid as Bulls erred in their attempt to stop him from crossing the baulk line.
It was UP Yoddha’s second win of the tournament but a second-straight loss for defending champions Bengaluru Bulls.
Warriors, Titans share spoils
Telugu Titans and Bengal Warriors shared the points after playing out a closely-contested 29-29 tie in the earlier game in Pro Kabaddi on Monday.
The contest was a close affair from the outset with Titans acquiring a slight edge thanks to the form of raiders Siddharth and Suraj Desai who outshone their opposite numbers Maninder Singh and K Prapanjan in the early exchanges.
With the defences on top for most of the first half, the game was levelled at 7-7 by the Warriors in the 14th minute. The Titans regained their lead shortly but a super tackle on Siddharth Desai by Mohammad Nabibakhsh leveled the game once again at 9-9.
However, in the final raid of the half, Suraj got self-out by stepping into the lobby without a touch but attracted three Warriors defenders with him. As a result, Titans got three points from the raid despite losing Suraj.
Leading 13-11 heading into the second half, Titans quickly inflicted the all-out on the Warriors to take a 17-12 lead in the encounter.
The Bengal Warriors defence tightened after the all-out and clipped Siddharth’s wings by tackling him a couple of times. Slowly clawing their way back into the game thanks to some slack defending by Titans, the Warriors leveled the tie again at 20-20 with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Rinku Narwal then sent Suraj on the bench to give Bengal Warriors their first all-out. Despite leading 23-21 with the game heading into the final ten minutes, Warriors kept the pace of the game high, giving Titans a chance to force mistakes and level the game again at 26-26 in the 33rd minute.
Both teams then started playing the game on do-or-die raids. Defences ruled the roost as the teams remained level-pegging at 28-28 with two minutes left on the clock. However, Titans raider Armaan showed great presence of mind to pick up a bonus despite being tackled in a do-or-die raid in the 39th minute.
With a minute left, both sides settled for the tie and took home three points each. The Warriors thus moved up to third place in the rankings, while the Titans finally got off the bottom spot.
The action will now resume on Wednesday with UP Yoddha’s match against Haryana Steelers before Gujarat Fortungiants take on Bengal Warriors.