The kabaddi aficionados of the city were squashed in like sardines at Nehru Indoor Stadium ensuring that the sharp spell of showers in the morning were but a minor irritant and not alarming enough to rain on their parade.
Well, the audience witnessed a mixture of both those elements on Saturday, but ultimately the mute mode rang the loudest as it trumped the chorus of cheers that preceded the anti-climactic end of the opening fixture. It was billed as the ‘Battle of Deccan’, but an in-form Tamil Thalaivas, on a three-match unbeaten run, hit a plateau against Bengaluru Bulls in the former’s first home match of PKL 7.
The final scoreline which read 32-21 in favour of Bengaluru, though, is deceptively flattering as until the 35th minute the defending champion was only marginally ahead by two points at 19-17. That was when the game involving well-toned limbs had turned decisively on its head when the Thalaivas skipper, Ajay Thakur, conceded two vital points through ‘Super Tackle’.
What that tackle did to the Bengaluru side was infuse a new lease of life in the dying moments of the game. From that stage on, the Bulls went on a rampage brooking no resistance en route to notching up its fifth win on the trot against Thalaivas. That wasn’t the only piece of statistic that would have heartened the Bulls as its latest win over Thalaivas also extended its dominance to six wins with just a solitary loss.
Bulls got back to winning mode after suffering a 33-35 slip-up against UP Yoddha in its last match. For Thalaivas, however, this defeat ended a three-match unbeaten run. More worryingly, there seems to be no end to the Thalaivas’ travails on home turf as it has won only one match from 12 played.
The start of the match saw Bengaluru taking off on a sprint surging to a 7-0 lead before inflicting the first All-Out to be well-placed at 10-1. To the home team’s credit, it clawed, nay, shoved its way back reducing the deficit to 10-17 at half-time. Thalaivas’ ploy of introducing substitute raider Ajith Kumar worked like a charm with the rookie earning a few back-to-back touch points to almost restore parity.
Until that ‘fatal’ Super Tackle on Ajay five minutes from time, from which there was to be no Houdini act, it seemed Thalaivas had done just about enough to at least eke out a share of the spoils. But alas that wasn’t to be and its quest for a second win at home gets painfully prolonged. In the final match of the day, Bengal Warriors and Dabang Delhi played out a 30-30 tie.