Vikash Khandola stars as Haryana Steelers upset Dabang Delhi in a 36-33 encounter
Dabang Delhi suffered their third loss in five matches as the Haryana Steelers triumphed over them by a final scoreline of 36-33 in Match No. 68 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Convention Centre in Bengaluru. Vikash Khandola was the star of the match as his 13 raid points proved to be the difference.
Sandeep Narwal’s toe-flick touchpoint on Ravi opened the account for Dabang Delhi in the first raid of the match while Ashish replied with a bonus for Haryana Steelers.
In the absence of Naveen Kumar, all-rounder Sandeep took responsibility for leading the raid as his chest touch on the Steelers’ top defender Jaideep oozed his confidence further.
Vinay picked up two touchpoints before making the most of the lobby to level the proceedings for the Steelers. Vikash Khandola took it one step further by escaping Jeeva Malik’s solo dash to give his side the lead.
Mohit ushered Ashu Malik in the latter’s Do-or-Die raid while Vikash tagged Mohammad Malak in the next raid to restrict Delhi to just two men. Manjeet Chillar attempted a tackle way too early and conceded a point but Sandeep crawled past the mid-line with his elbows on the mat to delay the inevitable.
Vikash managed a touchpoint over Sandeep while the Steelers’ defenders circled and pounced on the last raider Vijay to inflict the first All-Out. The scoreline favored them 12-7 with just six minutes of play left in the first half.
Ashish tackled Vijay while doing his defensive duties and replied with a touchpoint over Jeeva Malik to leave Delhi in tatters. Surender Nada attempted an advance tackle on Pardeep but couldn’t prevent the burly raider from crossing the mid-line.
Ravi’s ankle-hold on Vijay put the latter on the bench while Vikash’s running hand touch on substitute Vinay further pressurized Delhi. Ashu Malik escaped from Nada’s ankle-hold to revive Delhi’s hopes before picking up a bonus later.
Vikash stepped up in his ‘Do-or-Die’ raid to outmuscle Chillar and win the final point of the first half. The Steelers led 19-11 at the break, with not a single tackle point in Delhi’s bag.
Vikash replied with a running hand touch in the first raid of the second half while Ashu hopped past Jaideep’s ankle-hold attempt to sneak his hand past the mid-line. Vikash took a heavy touch and went too deep into the Delhi half, allowing Krishan Dhull to tackle him with an ankle-hold.
Krishan came up with another ankle-hold on Vinay to trim Haryana’s lead to just six points. However, the turning point of the game came moments later. Vijay stepped into the lobby before Jaideep’s point of contact and four other defenders followed the raider unknowingly. This allowed Delhi to have a sniff at victory.
Although Haryana was down to two men, Vikash completed his ‘Super 10’ with back-to-back bonuses against a full-strength Delhi unit to extend the margin to six points.
Neeraj Narwal hit Ravi on his knee with a low-kick while Vijay completed the formalities by scoring a touchpoint over the last Haryana defender to inflict Delhi’s first All Out. The scoreline read 28-25 with seven minutes of play left.
Neeraj escaped Jaideep’s dash and scored another touchpoint before crossing the mid-line and continued his hot streak of form by bagging a bonus alongside failing Vinay’s tackle attempt to equalize the proceedings in his next raid.
However, Haryana got their noses upfront again when Vikash bagged a bonus and a running hand touch on Chillar.
Jaideep scored his first tackle point after getting the better of Neeraj as Vikash rolled down the clock to maintain Haryana’s three-point lead. Jaideep pinned Vijay to bag his second consecutive tackle point as he found his form late in the game.
Sandeep won a quick touchpoint in his pursuit but it proved to be ‘too little too late’ as Vikash waited for the buzzer to stop beeping before attempting a touchpoint helping both teams earn one point apiece.
Haryana led the match for the majority and deservedly won the contest by 36-33 and will now face U.P. Yoddha on Sunday while the Delhi-based franchise is in action on Monday against Puneri Paltan.