HARYANA STEELERS and Tamil Thalaivas played out a thrilling 25-25 draw at The Arena in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. The Steelers had a first-half lead with skipper Surender Nada, who scored seven points on the night, leading from the front. However, a brave performance from K. Prapanjan, who also had seven points to his name, ensured Chennai split the points with their opponents.
It was an evenly contested start to the game with both teams pulling off successful raids early on. Tamil Thalaivas registered the first tackle point of the match in the sixth minute to send Vikas Kandola to the bench and make it 4-4.
The first super tackle of the night, however, came a minute later in favour of Haryana after Ajay Thakur failed to breach their resolute defence. Prapanjan was also sent to the bench soon after.
Both teams adopted a more strategic approach around about the 12-minute mark with the defences looking to capitalise on the opponents’ do-or-die raids. Chennai substitute Dong Geon Lee finally managed a successful do-or-die raid in the last minute of the half but a super tackle by Nada in the Thalaivas’ next raid meant that the Steelers had a 13-10 lead at the break.
The second period got underway after a half of domination by the defences. Nada had a first-half high 5, scoring six points in total, while Amit Hooda was Chennai’s best performer in the opening period with three tackle points to his name.
Prapanjan spearheaded an early fightback in the second half for the Thalaivas with a two-point do-or-die raid. It set up the first All-Out of the night as Chennai took the lead to make it 17-14 and rattle Haryana, whose first-half lead was wiped off in the blink of an eye.
Another two-point do-or-die by Prapanjan in the 28th minute, followed by a successful tackle by Chennai saw K Baskaran’s men open up a four-point lead with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock. Haryana though weren’t about to go away without a fight and managed to make it a one-point game with six minutes remaining.
The Steelers leveled the score at 22-22 in the 37th minute to make it anyone’s game heading into the closing stages. They finally regained their lead a minute later thanks to a brilliant tackle by Nada on Prapanjan in a do-or-die raid.
Chennai did retake the lead momentarily through a super tackle but a two-point raid by substitute Ashish Chhokar made it 25-24 in Haryana’s favour with a minute to play. A crucial bonus point by Lee off Chennai’s penultimate raid, however, ensured that it ended all square.