Kolkata, Sep 12 (IANS) Maninder Singh starred for home side Bengal Warriors as they beat defending champions Bengaluru Bulls 42-40 in a high-scoring Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 encounter here on Thursday.
Maninder scored 17 raid points for Warriors as they overcame a raiding fest by Bulls’ Pawan Sehrawat (19 points) to win at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indoor Stadium.
The victory meant the Warriors completed their home leg unbeaten (3 wins in 4 matches) to jump to the second spot in the points table.
The contest was termed as the ‘battle of the raiders’ due to the wealth of raiding talent on display. But the league’s best raider, Pawan Sehrawat, could hardly make an impact in a closely-fought first half that saw the defenders step up their game to thwart the raiders.
Warriors’ Mohammad Nabibakhsh defined the early stages of the match, pulling off two impressive tackles to set the tone for what was to follow. Maninder then got into the act for the home side with a two-point raid, sending Bulls’ Amit Sheoran and Saurabh Nandal to the dugout in the fifth minute.
But the Bulls showed their champion mentality by crawling back into the match after being reduced to two men on the court. Ankit pulled off a Super Tackle in the 8th minute to start the comeback. They kept evading the attempts by Warriors to enforce an All-Out and at one point even had more player on the mat.
But the absence of Pawan Sehrawat on the mat for a long period, coupled by an incredible two-point raid by Sukesh Hegde in the 16th minute, finally gave the home side an All-Out with slightly less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
However, Bulls’ strategy to pick up bonus points meant that they trailed by just a point (14-15) going into the break.
Bulls started the second half with an aggressive strategy and it paid quick dividends. Sehrawat quickly grabbed his Super 10 as the defending champions inflicted an All-Out on Warriors in the 4th minute of the second half to move to a six-point lead.
Nabibakhsh and Maninder kept the Bengal team in the game with their all-round performances. Nabibakhsh secured his High 5 with a tackle on Sehrawat with 8 minutes left on the clock to cut Bulls’ lead to four points.
The pressure on Bulls showed when Rohit Kumar went out of bounds to give the Warriors an All-Out with five minutes remaining.
The final minutes became a raiding masterclass by Maninder and Sehrawat as they matched raid for raid. Maninder then produced a stellar three-point raid but Sehrawat matched it with a two-point raid to level the scores. But the home side held on to their nerves to emerge victorious in the end.
The Pro Kabaddi League caravan now moves to Pune where Anup Kumar’s Puneri Paltan will look to make the most of the home advantage.