Ahmedabad, Oct 15 (IANS) Pawan Sehrawat was once again the star for defending champions Bengaluru Bulls as they beat UP Yoddha 48-45 in extra-time to win the first Eliminator of Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 in front of a packed audience at the EKA Arena here on Monday.
The star raider secured 20 raid points as the Bulls fought their way back to clinch a semifinal berth where they will take on Dabang Delhi.
The UP side dominated the early minutes of a fiercely contested first-half as Bengaluru struggled to get a stranglehold. Bull’s attack, heavily reliant on Pawan Sehrawat with Rohit Kumar starting on the bench, struggled against a well-organised Yoddha defence led by captain Nitesh Kumar.
Yoddha had defeated the Bulls both the times they met during the league stages and looked in complete control with Shrikant Jadhav impressing in the raids. Yoddha also had the advantage of momentum, with 23 All-Outs in their last 11 matches (the best record in the league), and inflicted an All-Out on the Bulls in the 8th minute to open up a 7-point lead.
Nitesh Kumar produced a stellar tackle in the first move after the All-Out to send Pawan Sehrawat to the dugout but the Bulls finally had success in the defence with a successful tackle on Surender Gill with seven minutes remaining in the half.
The tackle brought Pawan Sehrawat back on the mat and he produced a stunning 3-point Super Raid to halt Yoddha’s dominance. Nitesh did produce a Super Tackle on Pawan with 4 minutes left in the first half but the Bulls, buoyed by Rohit Kumar’s presence on the mat, secured their first All-Out with a minute remaining for the break. The half ended 20-17 with Yoddha on top.
Bulls dominated the starting minutes of the second half with Mahender Singh coming good in the defence. With the defence scoring points, the Bulls executed an All-Out and reduced Yoddha to two men on the mat.
But in Nitesh Kumar Yoddha arguably had the league’s best defender, and the captain produced two Super Tackles (in the 10th and 11th minute of the half) on Pawan to keep his team in the match and pick up a High 5.
Bulls’ Sumit and Yoddha’s Shrikant impressed with their raids as the match entered the final four minutes with Yoddha leading by 8 points.
Pawan produced some important raids to clinch an All-Out with four minutes remaining on the clock. Bulls had a one point lead going into the final play of the match but Surender Gill made successful raid to level the score and push the match into extra time.
Yoddha started the extra time on a high with a two-point raid by Rishank Devadiga that also sent Pawan to the bench but Sumit’s raiding and a team tackle on Yoddha’s Shrikant meant that only one point separated the sides as the two teams changed ends in extra time.
Pawan produced a stunning 4-point raid to give the defending champions a three-point lead but Monu Goyat immediately produced a 2-point raid to cut the gap. But Pawan clinched an All-Out and that was enough to see the defending champions through to the semifinal.