HYDERABAD: The Puneri Paltan survived a late scare to beat the Bengaluru Bulls 35-33 in the second game of the evening here at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday.
A late surge by the Bulls with Bharat at the centre of it sparked the stadium to life in one of the best games of the season.
Billed as a clash between the Bulls' raiding power against Pune's strength in defence, the start did not disappoint. Despite a quick start by the Bulls, who matched the Paltan point for point in the early exchanges, the Paltan defence gave the impetus to their team a few minutes later.
The Paltan inflicted the first all-out of the game within the first 10 minutes as they surged into a 14-4 lead.
From there it became a lesson for the team currently at the top of the table as the Paltan nicked points while raiding and in defence. They succeeded in keeping the Bulls' danger man Bharat off the mat for large stretches of the half to stay in control.
With another all-out looming, a super tackle by Mayur Kadam on Aslam Inamdar delayed the inevitable and kept them in the game. Going into halftime, Paltan were leading by a massive 10 points at 20-10. The Bulls kicked off the second half with a super tackle, Neeraj Narwal tackling Mohit Goyat to spark some belief and a resurgence in the side.
Unfortunately, the tackle proved a false dawn, as the Paltan defence ensured they did not let the Bulls off the hook. And sure enough, the pressure paid off as they inflicted a second all-out on the Bulls to take a 26-12 lead.
In a massive lead, and Bharat struggling to score his first point of the game, the Paltan looked to have sealed the game. And then in the final five minutes, the Bulls suddenly came alive. With just over 3 minutes left to play they inflicted their first all-out on the Paltan to cut the lead down to five at 27-35.
With his first points in the bag, Bharat suddenly found his old form again, and the points kept flowing. A 12-point lead was wiped out within two minutes and with ten seconds to go, the Bulls drew level to turn a stroll into a nail-biter.
With the last raid of the evening, on a do-or-die raid, Inamdar delivered the final blow, against the momentum as the Paltan took the win.