When Mahendra Ganesh Rajput was sent to make a raid in the 37th minute of the game, instructions from coach Manpreet Singh were clear as he wanted his trump player to inflict an all-out on Bengal Warriors. What followed next was sheer brilliance from the 27-year old raider as Gujarat Fortunegiants were awarded five points and avoided their first defeat at home. Mahinder’s prodigy helped Fortunegiants continue their unbeaten streak as the match ended in a thrilling 26-26 draw.
While Sachin Tawar and captain Sukesh Hegde imposed most of the damage on the Warriors, it was only Mahendra’s effective last two raids that gave the hosts a lead of 26-23. One can clearly see that the team is doing well in Manpreet Singh’s aggressive style of play. “Bolke aaya tha Mahendra ko ki chahe kisi bhi bhagwan ko yaad karle but agli raid mein kamse kam teen point chaiye,” Manpreet said. “You want your best players to start the game for you but there is one player who comes in just to finish the game. Mahendra is one of them.”
During the post match presser, Benhal coach Jagdish Kumble said that they had studied every player’s move and had prepared a strategy accordingly. To a certain extent, Warriors were phenomenal in all the departments as they maintained their lead over their opponent.
After going into the half time with a 14-10 lead, Bengal raiders did well to keep an advantage over the Gujarat team. Jang Kun Lee, Maninder Singh and Deepak Narwal kept the scoreboard moving as Gujarat’s defence lacked the power to hold on Warriors brigade. Gujarat’s only stand out defender was Abozar Mighani while others failed to even open their account. With Deepak leading the charge, Bengal took a lead of 19-15 in the 32nd minute as they edged closer to registering their third win.
However, with the result, Gujarat is so far the only side to stay unbeaten at home in the fifth season of Pro Kabaddi. With next the leg to be played in Lucknow, the Fortunegiants coach said, “I challenge other teams to play like us and stay unbeaten at home.”
This was the fifth instance in this edition where teams have settled for a draw. The current situation of Zone A points table sees Gujarat Fortunegiants on 36 points, in the first place, while Bengal Warriors placed fourth in Zone B with 14 points after five matches.