DABANG DELHI delivered a hammer-blow to Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Super Playoff chances by condemning them to a 35-34 defeat in front of their home fans at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday. Meraj Sheykh and R. Sriram were Delhi’s best players on the night having accounted for seven points each.
The game burst into life in the fourth minute when a brilliant four-point super raid by Nitin Rawal gave Jaipur a 5-2 lead. Delhi’s Iranian duo Sheykh and Abolfazl Maghsodlou were doing their best to keep the team from the national capital in the game but the Pink Panthers did have an 8-5 lead by the end of the first quarter.
However, two super tackles by Delhi on Rawal first and then Pawan Kumar squared things up at 10-10 in the 15th minute. A third super tackle by Dabang then gave them a 13-11 lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the half. Jaipur did claw away at some of Delhi’s slender lead before the half-time whistle but the visitors took a 14-13 advantage into the break.
The hosts started the second period with a two-point raid by Tushar Patil to set up an All-Out on Delhi – inflicted by Kumar in the second minute of the half – for a 19-15 lead. Delhi though came back strongly to tie the match up at 21-21 by the 27th minute with some clinical raiding from the Iranians and Sriram.
Delhi looked like they were about to enforce an All-Out on Jaipur in the 34th minute but a spectacular five-point super raid by Rawal completely shifted the momentum of the game, making it 31-25 in favour of the hosts. Credit to Delhi though for sticking to their task and eventually effecting an All-Out on Jaipur in the 37th minute for a 32-31 lead.
The Pink Panthers, however, weren’t about to wave goodbye to their Super Playoff hopes without a fight and had to dig deep to re-establish a narrow 33-32 lead heading into the penultimate minute of the match. A self-out by Jaipur once again squared the score and set up a grandstand finish, allowing the northerners to then pull off a successful tackle on Kumar in the buzzer raid of the contest to clinch the victory.
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