Pro Kabaddi: Bengaluru Bulls handed second successive home defeat by Jaipur Pink Panthers
In a clash between the third and the fourth placed teams, Bengaluru Bulls were beaten by Jaipur Pink Panthers 25-27 on the second day of the Bengaluru leg. The Panthers, who were in 4th spot before the match leapfrogged the hosts to third place courtesy of this very tactical win. Jasvir’s presence of mind won the Panthers the game, while Sonu Narwal scored 8 points to emerge as the joint topscorer with Ajay Thakur.
Sonu Narwal won the first point of the match after Ajay Thakur’s empty raid. Sonu Narwal and Kuldeep Singh won a couple of points for the visitors, who led 5-2 after 6 minutes to the dismay of the crowd. Pritam Chillar’s raid was unsuccessful as the home team were on the verge of an all out.
The Bulls were shell-shocked by the tenacity of the Panthers as the home team suffered an early all out by the visitors in the 8th minute when Jasvir Singh got both the remaining Bengaluru defenders out as Jaipur took a 10-2 lead.
Ajay Thakur won 2 points in the first raid after the revival of his team, but the Panthers restored their 8-point lead with 5 minutes left in the half. However, a late charge by Ajay and captain Manjeet Chhillar helped the Bulls end the half trailing by 6 points, 11-17. Bulls coach Randhir Singh had an important half-time team talk to give to ensure the home team avoided a second consecutive loss.
A tactical display by the Panthers
The start of the second half saw Sonu Narwal get Manjeet Chhillar out in a do-or-die raid while Ajay Thakur was tackled as the Panthers restored their 8-point lead in the 23rd minute. The crowd got in the mood after Panthers began wasting time with over 15 minutes to go as they booed every Jaipur raid. In the do-or-die raids, Sonu Narwal and Ajay Thakur were caught out as the Panthers led 21-13 with 14 minutes to go in the match.
In a match where most of the points came from do-or-die raids, Jaipur executed their strategy extremely well as both teams exchanged points till the 35th minute. The scoreline read 17-25 in favour of the visitors. Manjeet Chhillar returned successfully from his raid, only the third successful raid of the half, to reduce their deficit to 7.
The home team staged a late comeback, through Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chhillar enforced an all out as the home team trailed 25-27 in the final minute. But, it proved to be too little, too late for the Bulls, who were outdone by Jaipur’s smart play as the final buzzer sounded without any change to the scoreline.
With this loss, Bengaluru Bulls drop down to 4th spot while Jaipur Pink Panthers move to 3rd spot. This was Bulls’ second consecutive loss at home, having been beaten by U Mumba on the opening day. The home team will face Dabang Delhi in a crunch tie, that may prove to be crucial in deciding who will move to the playoffs.
Man of the match: Ajay Thakur and Sonu Narwal