The first match of the Kolkata leg had a brilliant end as Bengal Warriors beat Jaipur Pink Panthers 28-26 in the last second of the match. Jaipur were leading throughout the match, but the home side, buoyed by a brilliant Nilesh Shinde knicked the tie in the dying moments.
The Netaji Indoor Stadium had imminent personalities like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former Indian cricket captain, Sourav Ganguly, who sang the national anthem to signal the start of the match. The Panthers won the toss and forced the Warriors to raid first.
The first points of the game came through a raid by Jasvir Singh of Jaipur Pink Panthers. Warriors’ Jang Kun Lee restored parity while the Bengal defenders caught Sonu Narwal to take the lead in front of a loud home crowd after 3 minutes.
Both teams exchanged points and by the 7th minute, Jaipur were leading 6-5 when there was a moment of controversy in Jasvir Singh’s raid. Manoj Kumar was adjudged to have stepped out of bounds, which was later overruled, while Nilesh Shinde came flying from the right to knock Jasvir out of the mat to earn Warriors 2 points.
With Warriors leading 7-6, the Panthers came back strongly to establish a 11-9 lead in the 15th minute as only Nilesh Shinde was left in the home team’s half. The Bengal player went in to raid, but a sensational tackle by Rajesh Narwal brought the first all out of the match to help his team take a 5-point lead.
The home side chipped away the Panthers’ lead little by little and at the end of the half, were trailing by just 3 points. Raj Narain Sharma’s side needed to pull up its socks to come back against the defending champions, who are known to get stronger in the second half.
Nilesh Shinde hunts down the Panthers
Gangadhari Mallesh, in the do-or-die raid won his team 2 points to extend their lead. Jasvir Singh was having a brilliant game and the raider consistently accumulated points for the Panthers as they established a healthy 20-14 lead in the 25th minute. The home crowd went silent by the 30th minute as the Warriors had only 3 players left as star raider Jasvir came in to raid.
However, Nilesh Shinde had other ideas as he single-handedly caught the Panthers player to give hope to the home side. After a timeout, there was a moment of controversy as Mahesh Goud looked to have touched two players and returned to the half, but the referees after consultation, awarded the Warriors just 1 point as the scoreline read 20-24 in Panthers’ favour with 7 minutes to go.
With Jaipur leading 26-21 with 2 minutes left in the match, Mahendra Rajput returned with 2 points from his raid and Jasvir Singh was caught by Nilesh Shinde once again to make it a 2-point game. Dinesh Kumar went in for the Warriors’ final raid with just 2 Jaipur players left. He came back with 1 point and just Samarjeet Singh was left as Jaipur led by 1 point with 15 seconds left on the clock.
All the Panthers raider had to do was cross the baulk line and spend the 15 seconds in the opposition half, but his inexperience showed as Nilesh Shinde used his ankle hold once again to trap Samarjeet and ensure the win for the home side despite trailing throughout the match.
Man of the match: Nilesh Shinde