After a thrilling victory over U.P. Yoddha in Eliminator 1 of the Pro Kabaddi League, Bengaluru Bulls will now be up against the leagues table- toppers Dabang Delhi in the first semi-final of the tournament at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The first meeting between the two sides this season finished in a narrow 33-31 victory for Delhi while the second ended in a 39-39 tie, where Amit Sheoran's tackle on Naveen Kumar in the buzzer raid salvaged three points for the Bulls.
The reigning champions fought a mighty battle against a spirited Yoddha and prevailed by a scoreline of 48-45 in Eliminator 1 to make it to the semis. The match had initially finished 36-36 and needed extra time to decide a winner. Two massive raids from Pawan Kumar Sehrawat in the first ever extra time in the league's history ensured victory for the Bulls, setting up a showdown with Delhi.
The first game of Wednesday will be a feast for Kabaddi fans when the two best raiders not only of their team but also the league will face-off for one final time this season. Pawan up against Naveen Kumar will be a contest to watch when any of them wouldn't be in a mood to miss a final berth for their team.
Known as ‘Hi-Flyer', Pawan was on song for the Bulls against Yoddha and eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. He finished the match with 20 raid points, in what was another incredible performance from the league's leading raid point scorer.
When Sehrawat struggled to get going in the first half and the early parts of the second, it was raider Sumit Singh who kept the scoreboard ticking for the Bulls and reviving the ‘Hi-Flyer'. Sumit scored seven raid points and was tackled just twice. His performance should give a sense of security to Pawan going forward, who will be able to raid knowing that the youngster can pick up points and revive him if need be.
Delhi raiding has been single-handedly led by Naveen. With 19 consecutive Super 10s and, a league record, 20 in total this season, Naveen has had a campaign to remember. The youngster has broken numerous records in his 21 appearances so far this season and has led Delhi to their maiden semi-final appearance in the league's history.
While Naveen has undoubtedly been Delhi's lead raider, his teammates Chandran Ranjit and Vijay have also been quite impactful in attack, scoring 110 and 43 raid points respectively. Their attack also boasts of the experienced Meraj Sheykh, who has come in handy over the course of the season. With a raiding unit as stacked as theirs, it comes as no surprise that Delhi lead the league with an average of 21.91 raid points per game.
When it comes to the defenders, the Bulls defence had a rather quiet outing, as they scored just nine tackle points against Yoddha. Stand-out Cover Mahender Singh was yet again the pick of the bunch, finishing with four tackle points. The Bulls' defence was the fourth-lowest scoring defensive unit during the league stage and, in the Eliminator, their total of nine tackle points was fewer than what corner duo Nitesh Kumar and Sumit managed on their own.
Delhi, on the other hand, would rely on defender Ravinder Pahal, who has enjoyed another outstanding campaign, finishing the league campaign as the team's leading tackle point scorer with 59 in 21 appearances. The right corner has been well-supported by his partner on the opposite flank, team captain Joginder Singh Narwal, who has 46 tackle points this season.
Overall, kabaddi fans on Wednesday will definitely watch another tough game of the season when the defending champions will take on the best team of this season. Bulls carry the experience of playing the big games, Delhi have the young power and strength in their armoury to upset even the best of the best.