Pawan Sehrawat was once again the chief star performer for Bengaluru Bulls as they defeated U Mumbai 35-33 in a crucial Pro Kabaddi match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday.
Sehrawat scored 10 raid points for the Bulls are they produced a composed performance to move up to the fourth place in the points table and improve their chances of qualifying for their playoffs. U Mumba did have moments in the match where they looked capable of staging a comeback but unfortunately fell short by two points in a tightly contested affair.
The first half was evenly matched with both teams opting a rather cautious approach due to the implications of a bad result on their playoff chances. The two teams were also hampered by injuries, with Rohit Kumar absent from the Bulls’ line-up and young Arjun Deshwal missing from U Mumba’s raiding department.
As expected, the Mumbai defence took an offensive approach against Bulls’ standby captain and chief raider Pawan Sehrawat and sent him to the dugout multiple times in the early minutes. But the Mumbai side could not take advantage due to the lack of quality of raiders in their ranks.
It eventually came to haunt them in the final minute of the first half where Sehrawat secured a five-point super raid that clinched the Bulls an all-out and helped them pull clear of Mumbai. The first half ended 17-11 with the Bulls on top.
The all-out certainly pumped up the defending champions as they started the second half on a high.
Pawan Sehrawat continued his good work with the raids but it was the Bulls’ defence, particularly Saraubh Nandal, who impressed as the defending champions inflicted another all-out on U Mumbai in the 7th minute of the half to open up a 12-point lead.
Nandal secured his High 5 as Bulls looked to sit on the lead. But cautious approaches seldom work in kabaddi, and U Mumba stormed their way back into the match through some direct raiding by Abhishek Singh and clinched an all-out with five minutes left in the match to make it a 4-point game.
However, the Bulls’ defence held firm in the dying minutes to clinch an important victory that has got them to within a win of the playoffs. U Mumba picked up one point from the match to sit at fifth spot in the table. The Mumbai side need to win two out of their remaining four matches to ensure a place in the playoffs.
Siddharth Desai powers Telugu Titans to massive win
Siddharth Desai was at his marauding best as he helped Telugu Titans thrash Jaipur Pink Panthers 51-31 in the final match of Jaipur-leg on Friday.
The star raider scored 22 points as Titans showed the Pink Panthers no mercy. Jaipur’s Nilesh Salunke reached 300 raid points milestone and Sandeep Dhull crossed 200 tackle points but that was the only good news for the home side from the match as they struggled to contain Siddharth Desai for the entire match.
A fiercely contested first half saw both sets of raiders dominating the mat. Telugu Titans started on the front foot with Siddharth looking his unstoppable best.
But for the Pink Panthers, the duo of Deepak Hooda and Deepak Narwal were also looking sharp as well. The reason why the raiders had it easy in a high-scoring half was the poor show of the corners.
For the home side Pink Panthers, Sandeep Dhull in the left corner had a horror outing and was sent to the dugout six times by Siddharth.
In fact, Siddharth spared no one, as he cruised to 13 points in the first half from his nine raids. His three-point super raid with under four minutes left to half time gave the Titans a four-point lead but the raider made an unforced error in the subsequent raid, entering the lobby without a touch, which handed Jaipur a super tackle in the final minute of the half and prevented an all-out. The half ended 17-15 with Titans on top.
The Titans and Siddharth Desai were in no mood to let the Pink Panthers come back into the game though and the raider ensured his team secured their first all-out of the match in the third minute of the second half.
The all-out opened up a 5-point lead and knocked the stuffing out of the home side. With Siddharth in form, Titans secured another all-out in the 7th minute of the half to open up a 13-point lead.
There was no coming back for Jaipur and the demoralised unit suffered a third all-out with less three minutes remaining in the match.
The Titans’ defence ensured there were no slip-ups in the final minutes to secure a huge win that kept their slim chances of making it to the playoffs alive. The result meant Jaipur missed the chance to enter the top six and a late injury to captain Deepak Hooda could hurt their chances in their remaining two games. The Pink Panthers now need to win their remaining matches and hope results go in their favour elsewhere.
The Pro Kabaddi caravan now shifts to Panchkula where Haryana Steelers will look to impress in front of their home crowd and seal a playoff berth. They take on sixth-placed UP Yoddha in the leg opener before Gujarat Fortunegiants look to remain the hunt for the playoffs against bottom side Tamil Thalaivas.