BENGALURU BULLS led by the indefatigable all-rounder Manjeet Chillar edged Telugu Titans 39-38 to seal the first spot in the finals of the second season of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi. In what seemed to be a one-sided affair in favour of the Bulls, till about five minutes left on the clock the first play-off of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League came alive with the Titans coming back into the match with three super tackles and their star raider Rahul Chaudhari striking super form. There was a sudden urgency in their play and while the stadium reflected a sense of disappointment in their loss, there was delight in seeing them going down with a fight. The full-house at the Dome @ SVP, NSCI really had their monies worth.
Bengaluru yet again showed that they had it in them to stave off the late challenge from their rivals. Manjit and Dharamaraj who too had a superb match took the onus on themselves to deny Rahul Chaudhari a free rein during the last two raids. They blocked Rahul and did not allow him to raid deep and score more than one point. It was their sacrifice and on the spur decisions which finally clinched for Bengaluru their maiden entry into the finals.
The first half belonged to the winners as they inflicted an all-out to lead 15-10 towards the fag end of the first half. They had a lead of 16-10 at the break. It was Manjeet’s all-round play (4 raid points and 1 bonus), which really put the Bulls in the driver’ seat. Ajay Thakur their star raider came up with three points.
For Telugu Titans, the injury to Sukesh Hegde their most dependable player really hit hard. He limped off the court with his heavily strapped left knee giving way very early in the match. To add to their worries Meraj Sheykh also was out early and he looked slightly injured when he was tackled heavily. Besides Rahul was able to contribute just 1 point plus a bonus that didn’t help matters for the Titans.
The Bulls continued to dominate after the break. Ajay Thakur raised his game and Dharamaraj Cheralathan with Somvir Shekhar too started making clean and effective frontal tackles that gradually helped his team increase the lead substantially. They inflicted the second all-out by the 25th minute at 25-13. The trend continued despite Titans coming with some spirited super tackles. They had six in the match with Sandeep Kandola who didn’t have a good match getting two.
Deepak Niwas Hudda kept his teams hopes alive with substitute Prashant Rai showing pluck and grit. From 34-23 and 37-25 Titans clawed back courtesy Rahul and Sandeep who came up with two-point raids. It resulted in an all-out on the Bulls very soon. With about a minute and half left and the score 38-36 in favour of the Bulls it would have gone any way. Finally Manjeet and his boys kept their cool to seal their spot in the finals.