Bengaluru Bulls bulldoze past Dabang Delhi 56-24

Vikas Khandola picks a raid point for Bengaluru in Eliminator 1

Bengaluru Bulls entered the semi-finals of 2022-23 season of PKL in style by thrashing the defending champions Dabang Delhi 56-24 in the first Eliminator at the Dome NSCI Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. Bengaluru took an early lead in the contest and Delhi failed to catch up as they were outfoxed both in attack and defense.

The Bulls’ defense did their homework on Naveen Kumar and tackled him in Delhi’s first raid as he failed to go past Saurabh Nandal’s block. Bengaluru gained the upper hand when Vikash Khandola swayed past three defenders to cross the mid-line in the first Super Raid of the game. Down to only two men, Vikash inflicted the first All Out of the contest after making the most of the lobby space and averting a late dash attempt as the scoreline read 11-2.

The Bulls slowly and steadily increased their lead from nine points to thirteen points. Naveen was caught off-guarded as Vikash bagged a swift touch on him in the pursuit. The Bulls’ defense granted Vijay Malik the bonus before Mahender gripped him with a double thigh hold to inflict the second double thigh hold. The scoreline read 24-10 in favour of Bengaluru then with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Naveen’s failed dubki and the opposition putting their bodies on Vijay Malik put Delhi in danger of another All-Out in the first half. But, the last three defenders of Delhi combined well to tackle Bharat as his hand stayed millimetres behind the mid-line and pulled off a Super Tackle. The half-time scoreline read 31-14 in favour of Bengaluru.

The third All-Out was inflicted on Delhi just two minutes after the change of sides as Subramaniam dashed away Manjeet after offering him the bonus. It seemed like Delhi had seen their worst as they trailed by 20 points but another All-Out in the 32nd minute increased the deficit to 27 points.

Naveen failed to weave his magic as he got tackled in the first raid of Delhi. With the writing on the wall, both sides were content with putting empty raids and conserving their energies. Ashu Malik bagged a bonus in the last raid of the match and prevented the fifth All Out but it proved to be a mere consolation as they surrendered to the might of the Bulls.  

Both Bharat and Vikash Khandola set the stage on fire by sharing 28 raid points between themselves. The surprise package of the eliminator Ponparthiban Subramanian notched seven tackle points, the majority of them in just the second half, while Saurabh Nandal too got a High Five to his name.

Dabang Delhi got eight raid points to his name but four of them came via bonuses. The story was no different for Vijay Malik as four of his six raid points came as bonuses. With only four tackle points to their name, Delhi’s defenders failed to make an impact in the game, thus putting a lot of pressure on the raiders, which they failed to shoulder properly.

Delhi’s topsy-turvy campaign in PKL 9 came to an end as they fell from the summit position in the table early in the league to inch their way into the playoffs. The former champions will be hoping that they can come better next season.  

Bengaluru Bulls, on the other hand, go one step further to their ambitions of lifting the PKL trophy for the second time. But to do that, they will have to go past the challenge of Jaipur Pink Panthers, with whom they cross swords in the first semi-final on Thursday.