The Pro Kabaddi league has been a huge hit and the competition has gone right down to the wire. Hosts Bengaluru Bulls took the last semi-final berth with a one-point 30-29 win over Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League.
While local star Deepak Kumar bulldozed his way past the Panthers, his captain Ajay Thakur stood back and watched with pride even as he provided the perfect supporting act.
Deepak, with nine raid points to his credit, was declared the best raider for the night.
Bengaluru’s win crushed any hopes that Telugu Titans of Visakhapatnam might have entertained of making it to the last four.
Thakur opened the account for his team in his very first raid, ousting none other than the leader of the Panthers, Navneet Gautam.
Deemed to be some of the best defenders in the league, the Jaipur team lived up to its reputation by taking down Manjit Chillar.
Thakur continued his winning streak, earning his sixth raid point, sending Maninder back. After 10 minutes, the scores were tied at seven-all.
Pritam Singh was captured by a trademark Rohit Rana tackle, making the Bulls concede the first LONA points of the match.
A couple of empty raids from Jaipur slowed down their ascent, but the breakthrough for the Bulls came when Deepak Kumar somersaulted over the centre-line, taking Jaipur’s Raju Lal Choudhary with him. This was only the beginning of the fantastic night that Deepak went on to have for the rest of the game. At half-time the score was 14-17 in favour of the Panthers.
Realising the success of their strategy, the Bengaluru team made sure that the next few raids of the Panthers were nothing but empty. Meanwhile Deepak continued his onslaught, making a mockery of the Jaipur defence. Thanks to his efforts the Jaipur team was quickly reduced to its skipper.
This not only earned Bengaluru their first LONA points but also took them ahead at 25 – 24. The next few minutes followed the same pattern, with Deepak continuing to shine while his defence prevented the Jaipur team from doing any kind of damage. A perfect example could be found in Rajesh Narwal’s foiled raid, whose dismayed face showed that he knew his raid was over before the Bengaluru Bulls even hit him.
Crumbling under the pressure of the mounting number of empty raids, the Jaipur Pink Panthers looked toothless against Bull’s charge which was fuelled by their desire to make the cut and reach the semis.
Jaipur, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Patna will now fight it out in the semi-finals.