A DISPLAY OF dogged bravado from Rohit Kumar ensured that Bengaluru Bulls pulled away a last minute advantage from Puneri Paltan in a game that was neck-to-neck most of the time. The Bulls won the match by 29-27.
It was Deepak Kumar Hooda's super raid that got Pune going, but he got trapped soon and Amit Rathi's raid got Bengaluru back on track. Pune replied by catching Rohit Kumar and making it 4-4 after the first 9 minutes.
THe Bulls' defence took the centre stage from here on, catching hold of two crucial Pune raiders: Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar. Pune replied with a successful raid from Nitin Tomar and the capture of Deepak Kumar Dahiya. A cautious series of empty raids continued and 14 minutes in, the score was still tied 6-6.
The scoreline's continued to be neck to neck. For Pune, raiding didn't see to be working out well as several of their raiders got tackled including Nitin Tomar (twice), Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar. But they kept up by trapping their opponent raiders including Amit Rathi, Deepak Kumar Dahiya and and Rohit Kumar. The only raider holding his own on the mat was Rohit Kumar, who kept the board ticking for Bengaluru Bulls. But even 30 minutes into the game the game was tied 15-15.
But Pune's Nitin Tomar ran a super raid, getting 3 touches and giving his team the first sizeable lead. They built on it by trapping Amit Rathi and a fruitful raid by Manjeet Chillar but the Bulls came charging right back into the game with a double touch raid from Ashish Kumar and a super tackle on Manjeet Chillar. 33 minutes in, the score was even again. 20-20.
Pune trapped Rohit Kumar. But Bengaluru did the same to Nitin; a super tackle. But Pune struck back with a hold on Deepak Kumar Dahiya followed by a successful Manjeet Chillar raid. This reduced Bengaluru's long-dwindling number down to one. And Pawan Kumar, the last man, was duly allowed to get the bonus and then tackled. Finally Pune seemed to be building a lead. And it was at the death of the game, too. With just 2 minutes in hand, the Paltan lead 23-26.
But the Bulls charged their way back into the game with steely determination. They managed to catch Manjeet Chillar. Then Rohit Kumar went in and got a touch. As the seconds ticked down, the game went into its last minute with Pune just about holding onto their lead at 25-26.
Rohit Kumar went raiding. He got pounced on by one, two, three defenders. He well back, and the centre line was still at a distance. He dragged himself once, twice... until his unguarded arm was well over the mark. A super raid, in the last minute of the game. He had turned the face of the match and put the Bulls ahead. The score was 28-26.
Sonu Narwal came raiding but he was practically given away one touch so that the score could be 28-27 in the Bulls' favour when Rohit Kumar went in for the last ride of the match. All he had to do was to go in and get a legal raid and the match would be theirs. Pune, needing a capture to get a tie out of this game, had to get on the offensive. The result was a precise kick-out from Rohit and perfect finish to a long, nervy fight. Bengaluru Bulls came out on top 29-27.
It was undoubtedly Rohit's consistent scoring and superior nerves in the last minutes that made the difference in a fight that went down to the wire. Bengaluru Bulls are showing a knack for winning close contests with late flairs this season, and given how competitive most matches in Pro Kabaddi are, this can end up being a major asset for them especially in the knockouts.