Bengaluru Bulls and Dabang Delhi drew 39-39 in a closely fought Pro Kabaddi match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday.
Delhi were in the lead for most parts of the match but a late comeback by the Bulls courtesy Pawan Sehrawat saw both sides settle for a tie in the encounter.
Delhi’s Naveen Kumar finished the match with 14 raid points (his 15th consecutive Super 10) but was tackled in the buzzer raid to help Bengaluru secure a tie.
Delhi’s match against the Bulls had been billed as the clash of the league’s best raiders in Naveen Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat but the early minutes proved why both of these raiders where just a significant part of a larger unit in a team sport.
The defences of both teams looked ready for the challenge as both traded blows in the initial minutes. But a slightly more balanced Delhi unit allowed Naveen Kumar more time on the mat with quick revivals and the 19-year-old secured 8 raid points to clinch an all-out in the last minute of the half to give the Delhi side a four-point lead.
Rohit Kumar’s absence due to an injury played a key role in Bulls’ relatively poor showing in the raids even though the team benefited heavily when three Delhi defenders were adjudged out of bounds with under 3 minutes to half time. The first half ended 22-20 with Delhi on top.
Naveen continued his good work in the early minutes of the second half. The 19-year-old raider secured his Super 10 as Delhi inflicted another all-out on the Bulls in the 9th minute of the second half to move to a 10-point lead.
But the all-out brought about the revival of Pawan Sehrawat to the mat. Bengaluru’s standby captain upped his game and quickly secured an all-out for the defending champions with under 7 minutes left to make it a two-point game.
Both Naveen Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat were sent to the bench with under three minutes left in the match with the scores tied at 36-36. But Delhi sniffed a victory after a tackle and raid point had given them a two-point cushion going into the last minute.
But a careless tackle by Vishal Mane, followed by Naveen failure in the final raid of the game, helped Bulls clinch an unlikely tie from the encounter.
The tie helped the defending champions move to the fifth spot while Dabang Delhi remained top of the points table.
Steelers dent Pirates’ playoff hopes
Vikas Khandola turned out to be the star performer for Haryana Steelers as they beat three-time champions Patna Pirates 39-34 in the earlier game on Monday.
Khandola picked up a Super 10 (13 raid points) as Steelers produced a complete performance to quell the challenge of Pardeep Narwal and the Pirates.
The victory helped Steelers consolidate their third position on the points table.
The Haryana outfit didn’t show signs of missing their experienced defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan as they started the match on the front foot.
Patna’s Pardeep was successfully tackled twice in succession and that helped Haryana build a lead in the early minutes.
Khandola also looked sharp for the Steelers, picking up vital raid points as the Steelers inflicted the first all-out on the 11th minute to move to a five-point lead.
But the Pirates were not in a mood to give up and quickly got back into the game.
Their defenders tightened up to strangle Haryana raiders, while, in attack, Pardeep went about doing his business, ably supported by Jang Kun Lee.
The first half ended with Haryana on top at 17-15.
The early minutes of the second half were dominated by the Pirates but the Steelers clawed back into the game, thanks to some astute raiding by Khandola.
The raider made two multi-point raids in the fourth minute of the second half to open up a lead for the Haryana side, who went onto inflict another all-out in the ninth minute to once again open up a six-point lead.
Pardeep produced a massive four-point super raid with eight minutes left to make the match a close affair but Haryana’s raiding unit immediately fought back and restored their seven-point cushion.
The Steelers secured another all-out with under three minutes left in the match to open up a nine-point lead and despite Pardeep’s valiant efforts, Patna could not find a way back into the match.
With the loss, Patna Pirates’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread while Haryana Steelers are inching closer to the knockout stage.