After an ordinary season so far (as per his own standards), Vikash Kandola chose the perfect occasion to show why he commanded an INR 1.7 CR price tag in the auctions ahead of the ninth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League. The Bengaluru Bulls raider led his side to a massive 32-point win over Dabang Delhi in the first eliminator to book a place in the semifinals.
The Bulls will take on Jaipur Pink Panthers in the fight for a place in the grand finale on December 17 in Mumbai.
BENGALURU BULLS 56-24 DABANG DELHI - HIGHLIGHTS, AS IT HAPPENED
Kandola began proceedings for the Bulls on Tuesday night. With a super raid and a multi point raid, the former Haryana Steelers player inflicted the first of eventually four all outs inflicted on the Delhi side, the scoreline then reading 11-2 in favour of the season 6 champions.
The Bulls tackled Vijay Malik and carried out another all-out to dominate the proceedings at 24-10. The Dabang Delhi pulled off a super tackle on Bharat in the 19th minute, but the Bulls still held a healthy lead at 31-14 at the end of the first half.
Bharat effected a magnificent raid in the opening minutes of the second half as the Bengaluru side continued to hold a stronghold of the match at 33-15. Moments later, the Bulls tackled Manjeet and inflicted yet another all out. Bharat didn’t take his foot off the pedal as the Bengaluru side led at 39-18 in the 25th minute.
The Delhi side found it difficult to pick up raid or tackle points consistently and succumbed to another all-out in the 33rd minute. The Bulls rode on the momentum and eventually closed out a comprehensive victory to book a place in the Semi-Finals.
Mayur Kadam, who has been a porous right cover for the Bulls, stepped aside for Ponparthiban Subramanian, whose performances in the matches leading up to the playoffs earned him a spot in the eliminator and he did not disappoint, managing seven points in the fixture.
Bharat and Kandola raided in tandem, quickly picking up points to keep Delhi silent throughout the game. Between them, the duo scored 28 of the 56 points the Bulls managed in the game. However, the defence was undoubtedly the difference between these two teams as the Bulls kept Malik and Naveen in check, even denying the latter his super 10. Delhi ended with just four tackle points compared to Bulls’ 17, a weakness that has held the defending champions back throughout the season.
Krishan Kumar Hooda had some stinging criticism for his boys after the match.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a worse performance by any team in my life. This is not a team that is coming from a village, I expected a lot more and this was just terrible,” he told reporters.