PARDEEP NARWAL AND Kuldeep Singh starred in an intense top-draw contest between Patna Pirates and Bengaluru Bulls where the defending champions stormed through with a 31-25 win after a neck-to-neck contest for the most of the game.
Patna did well to trap Rohit Kumar on his very first raid, and Rajesh Mondal ran back to back successful raids for the Pirates. The Bulls hit back with Pawan Kumar's crafty touches but once Pardeep Narwal joined the act, the Bulls had gone 6-3 down.
But the Bulls clawed back in. Pawan Kumar led the charge with two successful raids and then Pardeep Narwal of Patna fell to a super tackle. The visitors were now 7-8 up.
There was a lull of back to back empty raids. Then The push came from the home team to seize an advantage. Pawan Kumar was trapped, and Rajesh Mondal was touched. And now Bengaluru were down to one man on the mat. It was a standard give-away-bonus-then-tackle routine to get the all-out and Pirates were 12-9 up.
The upward trend had begun and Patna maintained their lead at half-time, staying 15-12 ahead. Afterwards te raids from Rajesh Mondal continued while Rohit Kumar was doing all he could to keep up with Patna's scoring rate.
Pardeep Narwal now took over the show with back to back successful raids. Rohit, Pawan Kumar and Surender Nada kept abreast with his scoring and the Bengaluru Bulls caught Rajesh. 30 minutes in it was still neck-to-neck at 20-18.
Bengaluru closed in. They got Sunny after he had grabbed a bonus point, then Rohit got a touch. It was 21-20 33 minutes in and Patna were dwindling in numbers. An all-out at this point would completely tilt the game in the Bulls' favour.
But then came a flash of that late-game strategical genius that has helped the Pirates still so many wins. The coach put Abolfazel Maghsodlo in for Fazel Atrachali. And the Iranian raider got a super raid on his very first attempt: two touches and a bonus. The Pirates were now leading 24-20.
Still down to 3 men on the mat, the Pirates had to rely on their defence to dig them out of this situation. And the defenders came through with a spectacular super tackle on Rohit Kumar. Now Patna were 26-20 up with 5 minutes left.
The Bulls caught Rajesh Mondal. So the Patna defenders replied with another super tackle, this time on Pawan Kumar. 38 minutes in, the lead was up to 28-21.
Pardeep Narwal got caught by the Bulls defenders. So how else did the Pirates reply but with yet another super tackle? Bulls just could not seem to be able to press in for that precious all-out, and now they were trailing 30-22 with merely a minute to spare.
Knowing the game was in their hands, Patna defenders stood far back to eat up the time. And the Bulls' raiders had no choice but to attack. Ashish Kumar got caught trying to do that. And when Bengaluru pinned Kuldeep Singh, it was all over. Patna Pirates had won the match 31-25, and registered their fourth win out of four games this season.
Now on 20 points, they are technically third on the table but at par with the top two teams in number of points. And the defending champions have 2 games in hand. There's little doubt about who is the frontrunner in this PKL season any more.