Maninder Singh’s impressive two-point raid in the final minutes of the match saved home team Bengal Warriors the blushes as they drew 25-25 with the Gujarat Fortunegiants in the first match of the Kolkata-led of VIVO Pro Kabaddi League.
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A low scoring match, with saw both sides prevent an All-Out in front of a packed audience at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, had looked to be in Gujarat’s hands in the final minutes but Maninder Singh’s raid, taking out star defenders Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal, helped Bengal clinch a draw.
The match had cautious start with both teams weighing each other up in the initial minutes. Gujarat, despite facing a formidable Bengal raiding trio of Maninder Singh, K Prapanjan and Mohammad Nabibakhsh, looked comfortable in their defence, forcing the raiders to look for Bonus Points instead. Bengal Warriors went into the match as the only team with three raiders with at least 50 raid points in the on-going season in the ranks and the quality showed when the Maninder started finding chinks in the Fortunegiants’ armour. But Gujarat stayed within touching distance, thanks largely to Sonu’s all-round performances. His three-point raid with under four minutes to half time levelled the points for Gujarat. The closely fought half ended 15-14 with Bengal on top.
Gujarat started the second half brightly and managed to open up a three-point raid over the home team in the first five minutes. Rohit Gulia impressed going forward while Gujarat’s defensive duo of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal was also getting their act together. But Bengal’s depth in the raiding department was shown when Sukesh Hegde came in as a second-half substitute and scored valuable raid points to keep the Warriors in the match. The scores were tied at 20-20 at the 10 minute mark of the half and the teams continued to match each other till the dying minutes. Maninder Singh then produced two brilliant raids, first a quick escape of Sumit’s thigh hold and then a two-point raid to wriggle past the Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal, to level the scores.