UP Yoddha produced a defensive masterclass to outfox Bengal Warriors 32-29 in a VIVO Pro Kabaddi League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. Nitesh Kumar, with a High 5, was the star in UP’s defence as they tackled Season 7’s best raiding unit out of the match.
Bengal Warriors, the team in form, raced to a quick start with their raiding trio of Maninder Singh, K Prapanjan and Mohammad Nabibakhsh looking in form. The Bengal side went into the match as the best raiding unit in Season 7 (19.8 average raid points) and quickly moved to a lead. Monu Goyat’s absence in the team meant the raiding duties fell in the hands of an out-of-form Rishank Devadiga and the raider once again struggled to impress on the mat. But Nitesh Kumar’s two Super Tackles kept the UP side in the game. Ankush came in for Yoddha with 7 minutes remaining in the half to salvage the situation and the young raider more than rose up to the challenge, securing two touch-points in a Do-Or-Die raid to bring his right back into the match. Both teams traded blows as the half moved closer to its conclusion with the defenders, especially Yoddha’s Nitesh Kumar, who raced to a High 5. The half ended with the scores 13-12 in favour of the Warriors.
The UP side had the momentum with them in the early minutes of the second half. Shrikant Jadhav produced an important two-point raid taking out Rinku Narwal, K. Prapanjan in the third minute and Yoddha went on to seal an All-Out in the 6th minute of the half to move to a two-point lead (19-17). UP’s defensive pair of Nitesh Kumar and Sumit were in outstanding form, not allowing Maninder and Prapanjan a chance to pick up points while at the other end Baldev Singh, who secured a High 5, and Rinku Narwal were equally impressive for the Warriors’ defence. UP moved to a three-point lead with less than three minutes remaining after Bengal tried to play on the Do-Or-Die situations and floundered. The defence ensured they remained focused to see UP Yoddha through to an important victory and avenge for their 31-point defeat early in the season.