While table topper Dabang Delhi strengthened its position after beating U Mumba 36-30, 11th-placed Gujarat Giants upset fourth-placed Haryana Steelers in Pro Kabaddi League 8 (PKL 8) in Bengaluru on Monday to keep its playoff hopes alive.
In the first match of the evening, raiders Ajay Kumar and Pardeep Kumar helped Gujarat Giants beat Haryana Steelers 32-26. Gujarat dominated right from the first whistle and gave Haryana’s defence no chance to stamp its authority. Ajay Kumar scored a Super 10 (11 points) while Pardeep Kumar fetched 10 points, including one for a tackle as Gujarat halted its losing streak against an in-form Steelers side. Its defenders had a solid game too, with the seasoned corner combination of Ravinder Pahal and Girish Ernak impressing.
Haryana's much-famed defence had a night to forget with Surender Nada struggling in the left corner. The Steelers had just 5 tackle points in the entire match.
Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh opted for a changed line-up with Ravinder Pahal returning as the left corner. There was no room for Rakesh S in the starting seven with the trio of Pardeep Kumar, Ajay Kumar and Mahendra Rajput preferred. The raiders repaid the coach’s belief by finding easy points off the Haryana defence. They rushed to an early lead but right when they sensed an All Out, Haryana’s Jaideep produced a stunning Super Tackle. Substitute Meetu ensured a brief fightback by the Steelers but Pardeep Kumar’s multi-point raids gave the Giants an All Out with two minutes remaining for half time. That opened a seven-point lead and Gujarat maintained it to end the half with scores 19-12.
The early minutes of the second half saw both sides slow down the pace of the match. Giants’ coach Manpreet Singh substituted Mahendra Rajput for Iranian defender Hadi Oshtorak. Gujarat knew it could take its time and target Haryana’s left corner Surender Nada. The experienced defender was having a torrid time with multiple unsuccessful tackles. At the other end, Vikash Kandola and Meetu took turns to fetch raid points. Gujarat had an eight-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of the match.
Haryana kept picking up points as Steelers coach substituted Surender Nada and pushed Rohit Gulia to the corner position. Raider Ajay Kumar picked a Super 10 for Gujarat while Meetu looked good for Haryana, targeting Ravinder Pahal in Gujarat’s right corner. With five minutes remaining, Haryana trailed by six points and had reduced Gujarat to four men on the mat. But the Giants' defenders held firm to ensure there was no late collapse. The win will come as a big relief for the Gujarat side which has struggled in the recent past.
Dabang Delhi beats U Mumba in a close contest
In the second and final game of the evening, Dabang Delhi K.C. showed great composure to clinch a 36-30 comeback win against U Mumba.
The scores were level with five minutes remaining, but substitute Neeraj Narwal’s raids helped the Delhi team clinch an All Out in the final minute and eventually win the encounter. All-rounder Vijay scored 12 points (including one for a tackle) and was ably supported by defender Manjeet Chhillar with four points. U Mumba lacked the lethal edge on the night to lose against arch-rivals Delhi for the second time this season.
The first half was a cagey affair with both defences ensuring the raiders had a tough day on the mat. Rahul Sethpal was a notable absentee for the Mumbai team while there was no Naveen Kumar once again for Delhi. The team from Delhi started the match on an aggressive note with its experienced stars Manjeet Chhillar and Sandeep Narwal looking their best. They moved to an early lead and reduced to Mumbai to two men on the mat by the 10th minute. But U Mumba produced two Super Tackles to shift the balance of play. Fazel Atrachali was in the thick of things as Mumbai staged a comeback to level the scores with three minutes remaining. Substitute Shivam scored 3 points coming off the bench for U Mumba. The first half ended 12-12 but more importantly, Delhi had just two men on the mat.
U Mumba clinched its first All Out in the second minute after the interval to open a two-point lead. Both teams continued to match each other blow for blow despite the All Out. Abhishek Singh and Ajith Kumar fetched important raid points for Mumbai while Ashu Malik did the same for Delhi. Mumbai only had a one-point advantage at the first Time Out.
The score was 25-25 with five minutes remaining as both teams played a patient game to entice an error. An ankle-hold on Ajith Kumar by Sandeep Narwal made it a two-point lead for Delhi with three minutes on the clock. Dabang’s Neeraj Narwal then produced a two-point raid with a wonderful dubki which eventually led to an All Out in the last minute and a five-point lead. Vijay clinched his Super 10 as Delhi secured the win and the bragging rights in the battle of India’s biggest metro cities.