In the 14th minute of the first half of Patna Pirates’ first inter-zonal clash against Gujarat FortuneGiants, captain Pardeep Narwal entered for a raid. But just after a few seconds, the referee pointed to his shoes and asked him to return. His shoelaces were not tied. The crowd at Thyagraj Sports Complex in New Delhi let their displeasure know, seeing their favourite superstar being sent back without even attempting.
Before the match started, the entire stadium chanted “Pardeep, Pardeep!” The emcee seized his opportunity and kept prompting them to cheer for Pirates’ captain. Coming on the back of a six-match unbeaten streak, the defending champions looked to be a mighty challenge for in-form Gujarat. But on a day when nothing seemed to be in control for Pardeep, including shoelaces, Patna struggled.
Much like football, in kabaddi the attackers (or raiders, in this case) gain recognition, registering more number of goals (or points). K Prapanjan’s and Sachin’s contribution might gather more limelight – the duo score 19 points among themselves. But it was a match purely won by Gujarat’s formidable defence line-up led by captain Sunil Kumar. The right cover combined brilliantly with the star of the night, Parvesh Bhainswal from the left and never allowed Patna’s dangerous raiding line any chance in the match.
Among themselves, the trio of Parvesh, Sunil and Ruturaj Koravi scored 13 tackle points. Pardeep could only score a single point in the match. Patna were all out thrice in the match. Soon, the crowd went silent. The emcee had to ask: “Yahan itna sannata kyun hai bhai!? (Why so quiet, Delhi?).
The crowd had come back to light later in the second half – every time Patna scored a point, Delhi roared loudly. But the fate was already sealed by then. Gujarat picked up an easy 45-27 victory.
Parvesh, who scored 7 points was dubbed as the hero, by the team. At the press conference, a happy Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh looked everywhere for him, but like a superstar, he made a late appearance. On being asked about his performance, he simply pointed towards his coach – “It’s all because of his plans – what he said, I followed.”
Speaking to reporters after the match, Patna Pirates coach Ram Mehar Singh agreed Pardeep’s flop show proved to be the downfall. “Every player has a bad day. Good defensive teams plan especially against stronger players and Gujarat’s plan worked today and our best raider could not perform,” he said.
“Our plan A did not work. Our plan B, Deepak Narwal, and Plan C, Manjeet,did not work. Our defence also made a few mistakes towards the end. We had 7-8 minutes to cover the gap towards the end. When the raiders do not work, it often becomes difficult for defenders to cover the gap,” the coach added.
Telugu Titans extend losing streak
Telugu Titans suffered their fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of the home team Dabang Delhi in the second match of the day. Skipper Rahul Chaudhri, who is still not fully fit, made a remarkable comeback to close the gap between the two teams. But two successive super tackles, one scripted by Satpal, the other by Vishal Mane, saw the Titans losing 34-29 in the match.
After the match, Delhi captain Joginder Narwal praised Delhi’s defence: “Our performance in defence can be seen by all. Satpal, Vishal, all defenders are working as a cohesive unit, and the results are starting to come.”
He further added that Delhi will continue to create history: “We found out today that Telugu Titans have never lost to Dabang Delhi. When we learnt this stat, we knew we wanted to create a history. We look forward to doing so in the remaining tournament,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines