Dabang Delhi began its VIVO Pro Kabaddi 2019 home leg with a fighting 33-31 triumph over holder Bengaluru Bulls at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here on Saturday.
DD raider Naveen Kumar stole the show, notching up a ‘Super 10’. Super substitute Meraj Sheykh picked five crucial points for the victor. Pawan Kumar Sehrawat (17 points), once again, racked up a big haul, but got no support from his teammates. If this pattern continues, the 2018-19 title-winner may find it difficult to qualify for the play-offs.
Bulls got off the blocks well, racing to a five-point lead (5-0) in no time. It inflicted the first all-out of the match in the 11th minute to open up a six-point advantage. Bengaluru continued to dominate as the gulf between the two teams widened to eight points (19-11) at the break.
Pawan was in a league of his own, completing the ‘Super 10’ just six minutes after the restart. The home team brought in Iranian Meraj to add a new dimension to its offensive department and he chipped in with timely points. Youngster Naveen collected three points off two successive successful raids, reducing the deficit to just a solitary point.
The aggressive strategy paid off as Delhi enforced an all-out with just three minutes remaining on the clock. Pawan helped his side draw parity at 31 all, but Delhi had the last laugh in the final minute. In the second contest of the day, Telugu Titans edged leader Jaipur Pink Panthers 24-21 in a low-scoring thriller.
Vishal Bhardwaj (8 points), a corner defender, put in a roaring performance for TT. The victory lifted Titans off the bottom and it now has 23 points from 10 games. Jaipur remains on top with 37 points from the same number of fixtures.
Losing teams, Jaipur and Bengaluru, will meet in Sunday’s first clash. In the following contest, Delhi will lock horns with Nitesh Kumar-led UP Yoddha.