Ahmedabad: Bengal Warriors produced an outstanding performance to beat Dabang Delhi 39-34 to clinch the VIVO Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 title for the first time in front of a packed audience at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Bengal’s consistency in the most fiercely-fought season of VIVO PKL got rewarded as a composed performance by the team, captained by captain Mohammad Nabibakhsh’s 10-point game. This helped Bengal Warriors clinch the coveted title for the first time. Naveen Kumar was brilliant once again with 18 raid points for Delhi but uncharacteristic errors in the night cost DabangDelhi K.C. the title.
The Warriors did not have the services of star raider and captain Maninder Singh in the night but got his support with his presence as Assistant coach of the team. That, or the pressure of the final, got to the Warriors in the early minutes as Delhi stormed to a 6-0 lead. Naveen Kumar certainly looked charged up for the event while Delhi’s cover combination of Anil Kumar and Vishal Mane also seemed keen to stop any raider coming their way. The Delhi side clinched their All-Out in the 8th minute to open a four-point lead but the Warriors were a different side after the restart. Stand-in captain Mohammad Nabibakhsh picked up his game, clinching valuable raid points, as Bengal quickly reduced Delhi’s lead. Delhi’s Iranian MerajSheykh impressed as a substitute, picking up two raid points in pressure situations, but the Warriors secured their first All-Out with under 4 minutes remaining for the break. The closely-contested first-half ended with the scores leveled at 17-17.
Bengal maintained that momentum in the second half as they quickly got into the lead. Sukesh Hegde once again sizzled for the Warriors with some mature raiding, often getting the better of Ravinder Pahal in Delhi’s left corner. Perhaps the smartest from the Bengal camp was to deploy the experienced Jeeva Kumar in a shifting cover role, depending on the raider’s strong foot. The decision helped as Bengal clinched another All-Out in the 8th minute of the half to open-up a 4-point lead. Delhi Naveen Kumar clinched his Super 10 in the 10th minute (21st consecutive) but Dabang struggled to get a stranglehold of the match with Bengal’s corner combination of Rinku Narwal and Baldev Singh also got into the game. Bengal inflicted another All-Out with 6 minutes remaining to open-up a 10-point lead.
Naveen Kumar kept trying to script a comeback for the Delhi side, hitting the 300-point milestone in the process, but his work continuously got undone by uncharacteristic errors in the defence with the likes of Joginder Narwal and Ravinder Pahal struggling. The Warriors’ defence held tight in the final minutes to secure their maiden vivo Pro Kabaddi League title.