WHEN PATNA TOOK ON Bengaluru last night, it was as expected a cerebral battle between two top draw teams in the Pro Kabaddi League, and the contest that followed did not disappoint.
The teams were nearly inseparable in terms of points for most of the match. The Pirates were pulling ahead and the Bulls were catching right up. But there was a sense of better composure from the Patna team. Their raiders were scoring points with ease, and their defenders were working on a different level of urgency than their opponents; happy to give away bonus points and play a safer game, avoiding the urge to do risky interventions like a dash and preferring to let the raiders come close to them instead. A look at the number suggests that the defending champions depended way more on their raiders to keep the scoreboard ticking than their defenders.
But it would be wrong to assume that Patna Pirates are a raider-dependent team. And it was clear when the push came to shove for their defenders, they produced not one but three super tackles that denied Bengaluru the all-out, and a way back into the game. And all this time, the raiders were doing their jobs fully well, with that slight edge over their opponents that made sure that it were the Bengaluru Bulls who were playing catch-up, fighting under pressure, and quite often taking risks and committing mistakes.
So it was a clever all-round performance from the Pirates, one that utilised their players well, in aggression as well as passive disruption to the opponents' game plan. Their cool nerves have made it possible for them to pull through with many a victories in the past, and there's a good chance we'll see much more of this from the defending champions going forward.