Former India Kabaddi captain Rakesh Kumar blamed UP Yoddha’s raiders for their struggles in the season. Speaking ahead of the start of the match, the Arjuna Award winning player said, “UP Yoddha’s defence has been good. But the raiders are not performing. Injury to Prashant Kumar has hurt them, and they are struggling to produce a third raider,” he said. He further added that captain Rishank Devadiga is feeling the pressure of captaincy.
In their final game of the home leg against Bengaluru Bulls in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, Prashant stepped up to the plate to earn 3 raiding points early on in the first half. But the remainder of the Yoddhas continued to remain lull. Bengaluru’s raider Pawan Kumar Sehrawat ransacked UP’s defence to score his 9th Super 10 of the season. Sehrawat 11 points to take his side to an easy 37-27 victory.
The young raider was well supported by captain Rohit Kumar, who carried on his form from the previous game, scoring 7 points on the night. In defence, Mahender Singh showed showed why he is nicknamed as “the bulldozer”. Singh scored 6 tackle points and remained the key player in shutting down UP’s attacks.
For UP, captain Devadiga stepped up late into action in the second half, as he manged to score 5 points in 10 raids, 4 of which came with less than 6 minutes remaining on the clock. UP raider Shrikant Jadhav, who suffered a head injury in the previous match, too struggled with his form, as he scored only a single point 12 raid attempts.
Speaking to raiders, Rishank said that because of the game situations, he was forced to attempt raids at a later stage of the match, but added he might have scored a few points more if he had gone for raids earlier in the match. “Because of the game situations, I had to wait early on and not go for raids. Had I gone earlier, I may have been out quickly, but the team required me there. But had I gone earlier, I could have scored a few more points,” he said.
With the defeat, UP Yoddhas earned the distinction of being the first team this season to remain winless in the home leg. In five fixtures, UP lost 3 while ended 2 in a draw.
Speaking to reporters, UP Yoddha coach Jasveer Singh blamed the injury woes for the team’s poor show in the match. “The continuous series of matches left several of our players injured. Captain Rishank was not fully fit. Shrikant also had stitches on his forehead. Our seconnd raider Azad Singh was new and he could not perform up to the mark,” he said.
Delhi keeps semis hopes alive
Earlier, Dabang Delhi earned a much-needed victory in Zone A match to keep their hopes alive. While the Iranian raider Meraj Sheykh left the crowd spellbound with his acrobatic jumps to score 6 points, the youngster Naveen Kumar once again impressed as he scored 9 raiding points in 15 attempts. Chandran Ranjit also scored a Super 5, as the three raiders scored a total of 21 points for the team to take their side to a thrilling 39-33 win.
Haryana, who rested Monu Goyat from captaincy, almost scripted a comeback in the second half, with the raider scoring his 2nd Super 10 point of the season. Goyat scored a total of 11 points in the match. But as he entered to take his 12th point in the final minute of the match, he was pinned down by Delhi’s defence, who earned two points from a Super tackle.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Delhi captain Joginder Singh Narwal praised Naveen and said he expects the youngster to perform even better in the course of the tournament. “We used Meraj Sheykh today and he performed. From Naveen, I expect even more. When he gets caught, it is because when he loses his concentration. His speed is such that no one can catch him in Pro Kabaddi. He is young, and I have high expectations from him. He can take us to the semifinals,” he said.