Maninder Singh stars as Bengal Warriors salvage a draw vs Gujarat Fortunegiants
Bengal Warriors squandered a two-point first-half lead to settle for 25-25 tie against Gujarat Fortunegiants in their opening match of the Kolkata leg of the Pro Kabaddi League at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Saturday. Backed by a boisterous crowd support, Bengal Warriors raced to a 15-13 lead but the visitors bounced back to make it 25-23 with less than a minute to go.
But Gujarat could not kill the contest with Bengal captain Maninder Singh standing in the way with a fine raid, taking out star defenders Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal in the dying seconds.
Maninder finished with nine raid points from 14 attempts, while Baldev Singh was Bengal Warriros’ top defender with three tackle points.
Earlier, the match had cautious start with both the teams weighing each other up in the initial minutes.
Gujarat, despite facing a formidable Bengal raiding trio of Maninder Singh, K Prapanjan and Mohammad Nabibakhsh, looked comfortable in their defence, forcing the raiders to look for bonus points instead.
Bengal Warriors went into the match as the only team with three raiders with at least 50 raid points in the on-going season in the ranks and the quality showed when Maninder started finding chinks in the Fortunegiants’ armour.
But Gujarat stayed within touching distance, thanks largely to Sonu’s all-round performance. His three-point raid with under four minutes to half time levelled the scores for Gujarat.
Gujarat started the second-half brightly and managed to open up a three-point lead over the home team in the first five minutes.
Rohit Gulia impressed going forward while Gujarat’s defensive duo of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal was also getting their acts together.
But Bengal’s depth in the raiding department came out in the open when second-half substitute Sukesh Hegde scored valuable raid points to keep the Warriors in the match.
The scores were tied at 20-20 at the 10 minute mark of the half and the teams continued to match each other till the dying minutes.
Maninder then produced two brilliant raids, first a quick escape of Sumit’s thigh hold and then a two-point raid to wriggle past Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal, to level the scores.