An hour before the start of Dabang Delhi’s second home game against U Mumba, the Bollywood song “Twist” from Saif Ali Khan’s “Love Aajkal” was blaring out in the Thyagraj stadium. A small number of early arrivers danced jubilantly in the stands to it. But little did they realise that the song was delivering a prophecy of things to come.
In the 7th minute of the match, Chandrakant Ranjit twisted, turned and raised his left leg to touch the hands-lock between two U Mumba defenders to earn a point for Delhi. It set the home side on course towards an all out in the next minute.
Another twist came a couple of minutes later when Rohit Rana tackled Ranjit and took him down. The remaining U Mumba defenders locked him up and ended his do-or-die raid. Then, Rohit Baliyan completed two successful raids to level the score with over 7 minutes left on the clock in the first half.
But the twists did not end just there. 18-year-old Naveen Kumar rose to the occasion with just 4 minutes left on the clock in the first half, and completed a Super Raid. Tackled by two defenders and thrown out, Kumar realised he was within reach of the finishing line. He patiently waited, hoping more defenders would touch him, but then realising no one else is joining the ruckus on the floor, Kumar calmly stretched his hands towards the line to secure two points for Delhi. Later, he completed another successful raid to give U Mumba their second all out in the first half.
With Delhi leading by 22-13 at halftime, the home fans, who felt comfortable in their seats, remained oblivious to the impending doom, failing to recollect the song they danced just 90 minutes ago.
The real twist in the tale came in the second half, when Siddharth Desai, who was kept quiet for most of the first half, came alive. In the 10th minute, the 26-year-old completed two successful super raids, to give Delhi an all out of their own. Soon, the scores were level at 30-30 with less than 4 minutes left on the clock. But that was not all. Desai once again went forward with two successful raids and scripted yet another all out, and then followed it up with another super raid to give his side a 41-34 win at the end.
Recalling the final three minutes in the match when the score was level at 30-30, Desai who scored 19 points, said he just wanted to win it for his side. “I had to make a decision, and I went for an attempt and I bagged three points. With still two minutes left on the cock, those points proved crucial in the end,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai skipper Fazel Atrachali spoke at the post-match press conference and revealed how he kept the team’s morale up going into the second half. “Kabaddi is our life, we never give up.”
“Our team is cool, we have a cool coach, and our players remain cool, in tense situations. If the coach gets angry, players get angry, then it gets difficult,” he concluded.