After a thrilling victory over U.P. Yoddha in Eliminator 1, Bengaluru Bulls will take on the league’s table-toppers Dabang Delhi K.C. in Semi-final 1 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 Dabang Delhi K.C. while the second ended in a thrilling 39-39 tie, where Amit Sheoran’s tackle on Naveen Kumar in the buzzer raid salvaged three points for Bengaluru Bulls.
Season Record (W-L-T): 12-10-1
The reigning champions fought a mighty battle against a spirited U.P. Yoddha team andprevailed by a scoreline of 48-45 in Eliminator 1 to make it to the Semi-finals. The match had initially finished 36-36and neededextra-time to decide a winner. Two massive raids from Pawan Kumar Sehrawat in the first-ever extra-time in vivo Pro Kabaddi history ensured victory for Bengaluru Bulls, setting up a showdown against Dabang Delhi K.C.
Best Raider – Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
The ‘Hi-Flyer’ was on song for Bengaluru Bulls against U.P. Yoddha and eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. The reigning MVP finished the match with 20 raid points, nine more than the next best raider, 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 Bengaluru Bulls and reviving the ‘Hi-Flyer’. Sumit scored seven raid points and was tackled just twice. His performance shouldgive a sense of security to Sehrawat going forward, who will be able to raid knowing that the youngster can pick up points and revive him if need be.
Best Defender – Mahender Singh
Bengaluru Bulls’ defence had a rather quiet outing, as they scored just nine tackle points against U.P. Yoddha. Stand-out Cover Mahender Singh was yet again the pick of the bunch, finishing with four tackle points.
Bengaluru 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 U.P. Yoddha’s Corner duo Nitesh Kumar and Sumit managed on their own. With Dabang Delhi K.C. boasting of a three-pronged raiding attack, Bengaluru Bulls’ defensive unit will need to step up and perform better against Naveen Kumar and co.
Dabang Delhi K.C.
Season record (W-L-T): 15-4-3
Best Raider – Naveen Kumar
With 19 consecutive Super 10s and, a league record, 20 in total this season, Naveen Kumar has had a campaign to remember. The youngster has broken numerous records in his 21 appearances so far this season and has led Dabang Delhi K.C. to their maiden Semi-final appearance in vivo Pro Kabaddi.
While Naveen has undoubtedly been Dabang Delhi K.C.’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 Dabang Delhi K.C. lead the league with an average of 21.91 raid points per game.
Best Defender – Ravinder Pahal
Veteran Ravinder Pahal has enjoyed another outstanding campaign for Dabang Delhi K.C., 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.
Sturdy Cover defenders Vishal Mane and Amit Kumar have also been reliable, scoring 26 and 33 tackle points respectively. Dabang Delhi K.C.’s decision to retain their experienced defensive trio of Pahal, Joginder and Mane coupled with the addition of Amit Kumar has worked out just as well as they would have hoped. The defence has looked formidable throughout the season and they would be aiming to continue that run through the playoffs as well.