A GRITTY, EVEN GAME received a climactic push from the Bengal Warriors, whose explosive flourish late in the game saw them beat the home team Telugu Titans by 8 points in a battle that was as much cerebral as it was physical.
The game began with both the teams deciding to play it safe and test each other out. The first couple of minutes saw empty raids from both teams, until the Bengal Warriors drew first blood by trapping the Titans' star raider Rohit Baliyan. The home team replied in earnest by capturing the Warriors' Mahendra Ganesh Rajput on the very next raid.
The scoreline ticked along with the both teams gaining single touches or bonus points from calculated, uneventful raids until the Titans went 4-2 up courtesy the trapping of Mahesh Goud. The Warriors replied by capturing Rahul Chaudhari. Then Nitin Tomar ran a raid where he was captured but took a Titans player out of the mat with him. The scoreline now read 5-4.
As the minutes wore on it was clear that this was a game being played in the minds of the players. The moves were heavily calculated and the action was gritty; the contest was evenly matched.
13 minutes into the game the score was 6-6. From here the Titans built a 3 point lead through successful raids from Rohit Baliyan and Rahul Chaudhari and the capture of Mahendra Rajput. But by the time the first half ended the Warriors were back on even keel. Mahesh Goud and Mahendra Rajput led successful raids for them and they captured the Titans star Rahul Chaudhari. The teams went into water break with the scoreboard proclaiming a nervy 9-9.
The home team began the second half in explosive fashion. Rohit Baliyan got two touches on a raid, and so did Meraj Sheykh. Down 13-10, the Warriors kept their cool and chipped away at the lead courtesy two fruitful maraudings by Nitin Tomar. The game was even again, 13-13.
Rohit Baliyan, always at the frontline of things, got them a point through a successful raid but soon he got caught in a subsequent raid. 14-14. And Mahesh Goud got a quick touch on his raid, giving Bengal the lead: 14-15 with 9 minutes to spare.
And from here, the Warriors asserted their dominance over the battle. They trapped Meraj Sheykh, then Nitin Tomar got a couple of touches, and Prashant Kumar Rai got trapped by a super tackle that saw a Warriors player fall out of the mat and to make matters worser Rohit Baliyan and Meraj Sheykh got caught too. The whole thing happened in less than 5 minutes and now Bengal Warriors were up 15-23, with 4 minutes to spare. A shaken Telugu Titans took a strategic timeout.
But even when the contest resumed, the Warriors were running rampant. They trapped Rahul Chaudhari again. Then Mahendra Rajput ventured too boldly into the Titans terriroty and got trapped. 16-24.
Time was now running out for the home team, and empty raids from Sukesh Hegde and Dharmaraj Cheralathan did not help their cause. The Bengal team could now comfortably see the clock out and protect the lead, and that's what Nitin Tomar and Mahesh Goud did with back-to-back raids. By now the Titans knew that the game was lost, but they did what they could, trapping Mahesh Goud in a last minute raid.
But the Warriors sat deep, not allowing for any accidents. The match ended with the Warriors claiming victory by a 17-25 margin.
It was the first match for the Bengal Warriors and this winning start will give them a lot of boost, especially because they have overcome the mighty Telugu Titans, who, boosted by their loud and loyal home crowd, won their first two games in emphatic fashion. They are being considered one of the title contenders this season, and beating them is definitely a good omen for the Warriors.
They will also take heart from the way their raider Nitin Tomar has done, notching up 6 points. On the tackling department, Girish Ernak stood above the rest with his performance, grabbing a total of 5 points for his team.
For Telugu Titans, this defeat is disheartening, but their victories in the first two matches will nonetheless continue to give them confidence. With their home leg over, they will venture on the road looking to continue with the form they showed against Puneri Paltan and shake off this defeat to the Warriors.