In a game that went level for large parts with occasional moments of individual brilliance and team lapses interspersed, Dabang Delhi fought back to score 13 points in the last four minutes, overcome a six-point deficit and regain the top spot on the leaderboard with a 43-39 win against Patna Pirates on Thursday.
The most crucial of those was in the 36th minute, the game-changer that turned the match on its head. Down six points, Vijay went in for a raid and came away with five points – and outed four defenders. That changed the equation and an 'All-out' later, with the clock winding down, Delhi had managed perhaps its most dramatic win of the season.
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The result also put a spanner in three-time champion Patna’s chances of making it to the playoffs in the seventh season of the Pro Kabaddi League despite the heroics of its captain Pardeep Narwal, who crossed quite a few personal milestones through the game – the first to complete a massive 1100 raid points and 50 'Super-raid' in the competition and 200 touch points this season. He admitted later that he would gladly trade them all for a win.
With nothing to lose, Delhi was content staying defensive and Patna circumspect at half time. It was Delhi’s defensive lapses at crucial junctures that almost saw Patna manage an elusive win before Vijay dragged Delhi back into the game and then past the finish line. He had done the same in the first half to keep his team level.
For Patna, it was Pardeep all the way who, perhaps realising that he had little support in defence or attack from the rest of his teammates, played a lone hand with 19 points but there was only so much he could do. While the spotlight in Delhi remained on Naveen Kumar and his raids the team, largely without a foreign hand to bolster and dependent on its Indian youngsters, found a new hero in Vijay, with support from Chandran Ranjit to keep the scores coming.
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