Hosts Dabang Delhi on Saturday notched up a thrilling 33-31 win over defending champions Bengaluru Bulls in the first match of the Delhi leg of the Pro Kabaddi League at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi.

Naveen Kumar was the star for the Delhi side who trailed for most parts of the match but inflicted a crucial All-Out in the final minutes on the Bulls to walk away with all the points.

Bengaluru Bulls started the match on the front foot, racing to a 5-0 lead, with Pawan Sehrawat flying high. The Bulls piled on the pressure, backed by their defence, to inflict the first All-Out of the match on Dabang Delhi in the 11th minute and open a gap of six points.

The defending champions continued to dominate with their defence, manned by Mahender Singh and Saurabh Nandal, thwarting all the raiders who came in their territory. The first half ended 19-11 in favour of the Bengaluru Bulls.

The league’s top raider, Pawan Sehrawat started the second half with the same intensity, rushing to his Super 10 (10 raid points) within six minutes of resumption as the Bulls maintained their pressure on Delhi.

The home team brought in Meraj Sheykh to add an extra dimension to their raids and the Iranian picked up bonus points to keep Debang Delhi in the game as the match edged closer to the final whistle.

Three points by Naveen Kumar in two successive raids with five minutes remaining in the match helped him reach a Super 10 and make it a one-point game. The aggressive strategy saw Delhi force an all-out on Bulls with 3 minutes remaining to take the lead.

But Pawan Sehwarat’s two-point raid tied the match once again with just a minute remaining. Delhi then pulled off an important tackle in the final minute to win the first match of their home leg.

Bengaluru will only have themselves to blame for allowing Delhi to clinch so many bonus points and finishing off the game when they were on top. The result saw Delhi move to second spot in the table.

Bhardwaj leads Titans to narrow win over Panthers

Telugu Titans beat league leaders Jaipur Pink Panthers 24-21 in the second match of the day in the PKL. Vishal Bhardwaj, with eight Tackle Points, was the Titan for the South Indian team in a low-scoring match fought between two highly organised defences.

Despite their league positions, it was the Telugu Titans who started the match on a positive note, with Siddharth Desai and his brother Suraj Desai impressing in their raids. Defender Amit Hooda wasn’t part of the starting seven for the league leaders due to an injury while their lead raider Deepak Hooda also looked to be carrying a niggle as he struggled to put together a successful raid.

At one point, the Titans had reduced the Pink Panthers to two on the mat thanks to Vishal Bhardwaj’s impressive tackling. But Jaipur’s biggest this season strength has been preventing All-Outs and the men in Pink pulled out four successful Super Tackles to turn the game around. The season one champions, shouldered by the league’s best tackler in Sandeep Dhull and Amit Hooda’s replacement in the right corner, Santhapanaselvam, moved to a lead in the closing minutes of a first half that ended 14-11.

Telugu Titans, marshalled by Vishal Bhardwaj, matched the Pink Panthers tackle for tackle as raiders from both sides struggled to get a stranglehold of the match. The Desai brothers, Deepak Hooda were all spectators as the game became a battle between two defences who were not willing to let the raiders settle. The game saw eight successful Super Tackles as the Titans led by a point (22-21) with less than a minute remaining in the match.

A perfect tackle Abozar Mighani meant the Titans had a two-point cushion going into the final raid of the match in a Do-or-Die situation and the Irani all-rounder evaded a Super Tackle and came away with a raid point to secure the victory for the Titans.

The raiding unit’s poor showing will be a concern for coach Srinivas Reddy whose Jaipur side will take on defending champions Bengaluru Bulls on Sunday.