After beating Dabang Delhi comprehensively in the eliminator, Bengaluru Bulls was given a taste of its own medicine by Jaipur Pink Panthers. The season 1 champion cruised to a massive 49-29 win in the first semifinal of the Pro Kabaddi League’s ninth edition here on Thursday.
It was billed to be a tussle between two star raiders in Bharat (Bulls) and Arjun Deshwal (Panthers) but it was the Panthers defence which did the heavy lifting in the knockout clash.
Sahul Kumar (10 points), Ankush Rathee (5 points) and Reza Mirbagheri (5 points) did not allow the Bulls to get going through the night. Bharath and Vikash Kandola, the star of the eliminator, together could manage only two points more than Sahul.
While Saurabh Nandal (4) and Aman (4) put up a fight in defence for the season 6 champion, a blunt raiding attack gave the Bulls little chance against a marauding Panthers frontline.
Bulls coach Randhir Sehrawat did not hold back in his assessment of the side after the loss.
“Our offense also did not work, our defence also did not work. We played like Telugu Titans today,” Bulls coach Randhir Sehrawat said.
“Neeraj and Bharat were not at their 100 per cent. We can’t give that as an excuse. We guarded against Ankush and Sunil as they’ve done well very well. Today, Sahul did very well. Our strategy failed,” he added.
“We are very happy to see the team understanding their roles and working together as a unit,” Panthers’ assistant coach Upendra Kumar said.
“We controlled the game. Sunil motivated every single player, especially in pushing Sahul through the match,” he added.
“Our coach told us that caution is not an option. We had to go after the raider and that’s what we did,” Sahul said after the game.
Deshwal, despite having a relatively quiet night, has 290 points and is on track to finish as the league’s top raider, with his closest competitor - Bharat now out of contention. Ankush, with 86 tackle points, has also overttaken Patna Pirates’ Mohammadreza Chiyaneh to become the top defender of the season and will keep that crown.
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