Bangalore: Patna Pirates sailed into the semi-finals of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi tournament with a 33-31 win against Bengaluru Bulls here Monday with a stirring fight back in the final minutes when they wiped out a five-point deficit to pocket the match.
The victory took Pirates' tally to45 points while the Bulls moved up by one to 37, but have two more matches in hand, including a crucial encounter against Telugu Titans (41) Tuesday before facing league leaders Jaipur Pink Panthers (53) Wednesday.
All credit to the Pirates for a magnificent fight back with a fine combination of attack and defence even as the Bulls, leading comfortably at one juncture, faded, the pressure apparently getting the better of them.
Leading the Pirates from the front was their raider Ravi Dalal who came away with eight points, followed by skipper Mandeep Kumar (four) while Suresh Kumar was rock solid in his tackles that fetched his team six points.
For the Bulls, Deepak Kumar scored eight points with his raids, but it did not influence the outcome as the Pirates had much more in the reserve at the fag end of the contest.
The match was off to a thrilling start with the teams going neck and neck, though the Bulls seemed to enjoy a distinct advantage with the capacity crowd behind them.
Ajay Thakur, a top-10 raider, tilted the balance in the Bulls' favour with a raid that earned his team a Lona, but Patna managed to keep their opponents in sight.
The Bulls, needing to win by more than seven points to qualify for the semi-finals, went into the break 18-13 and within striking distance of their target.
The second-half witnessed an intense battle with the Bulls coming up with a few successful raids for a four-point lead, but in the last five minutes, the Pirates put in a brilliant performance, both in attack and tackles, to douse the local team's challenge.
The Pirates, trailing 20-24, caught up at 26 and then completed a Lona to jump to go ahead by four points. The visitors then pressed on
Earlier, Delhi Dabang completed their league campaign on a winning note with a 45-22 decision against cellar-dwellers Puneri Paltan in a rather one-sided match.
Delhi were quick off the blocks and raced to a 10-0 lead before Puneri got their act together, but despite a second-half surge, they just could not make up the deficit.
The victory did little to help Delhi's hopes as they were never in contention for a semi-final slot and finished with 32 points while Puneri with a game in hand remained on 16.
For Delhi, their showman raider Kashiling Adake picked up 15 points and spearheaded their charge while Wazir Singh literally played a lone hand for Puneri with a 10-point haul, but also picked up a yellow card late in the match.