Dabang Delhi scripted a remarkable comeback to defeat Jaipur Pink Panthers 30-26 in their opening match of the Pro Kabaddi League's (PKL) fifth edition at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
Delhi were trailing 9-16 at the half-time with the side being all out in the 12th minute. But Delhi's Iranian pair of Meraj Sheykh (seven points) and Abolfazl Maghsodlou (four points) and a stupendous defending from Nilesh Shinde (five points) Sunil (three) ensured that Jaipur were all out twice in the second half and conceded the match.
Jaipur, though they looked good at the beginning, Delhi kept a check on them trailing by 4-5 till the eighth minute. But two consecutive raids from Jasvir Singh eliminated four Delhi players -- Nilesh Shinde, Bajirao Hodage, Anand Patil and Viraj Vishnu Landge -- triggering an all out which gave the Rajasthan outfit an 11-4 lead.
After the all out, Delhi brought in substitute all-rounder Abolfazl Maghsodlou of Iran and his agility and strong physical presence improved Delhi even though fellow Iranian and captain Meraj Sheykh was still struggling. Maghsodlou also made an impact in defence.
In the 17th minute, raider K. Selvamani's leg injury too affected Jaipur as one of their best talents, bought at Rs 73 lakh, was sidelined.
At half-time, Jaipur kept the seven-point advantage with the scoreboard at 16-9. But Delhi had already got the momentum with the late show.
With Jaipur ending the first half with only two men, Delhi didn't waste any time in forcing Jaipur's all out which put them three short Jaipur's tally of 16.
In the second half, Delhi captain Sheykh had regained his firepower and touch. He and his compatriot Maghsodlou and a collective strong defence pulled the Capital outfit from a weak position to equalise at 18-18.
Sheykh eliminated rival star raider Jasvir with a touch point to ensure that Jaipur struggle with their raids.
Nilesh, Hodage (two points overall), Sunil and Viraj (two) tackled one Delhi player after another to force another all out for Jaipur, and the scoreboard at this juncture stood at 24-21 in favour of the Capital side.
Later, a desperate Jaipur side, inspired by Pawan Kumar (seven raid points), did their best but they were not able to hold off Sheykh and his team from sealing this match in a remarkable fashion.