An incredible night of Pro Kabaddi League action saw the Bengaluru Bulls and Tamil Thalaivas book their places in the semifinal, knocking out Dabang Delhi and UP Yoddhas respectively.
The Bulls registered the biggest victory margin of PKL 9, with a 56-24 win over Dabang Delhi. The four all-outs the Bulls inflicted was an indication that Dabang Delhi were never allowed to come into the game at any point of time.
Bharat Hooda scored 15 raid points, Vikash Kandola scored 13 raid points, Ponparthiban Subramanian was a wall in defence with seven tackle points as the Bulls steamrolled their way through to the semifinal.
Vikash Kandola's redemption story
In what was labelled as the battle between two elite raiders in Bharat Hooda and Naveen Kumar, Vikash Kandola served a reminder why the Bulls paid Rs 1.7cr for him at the auction. It's not been an easy season for Kandola, having only scored 117 points in the 22 league stage games. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. That's why you never write off quality.
The Bulls raced off the blocks in the first half and that was entirely down to Kandola. In the first three minutes, Bengaluru inflicted an all-out on the defending champions. Kandola picked up a bonus in his first raid, and then a three-point super raid in his second to rattle Dabang Delhi. The defending champions' defence never recovered from that early blow inflicted on them by Kandola.
Pardeep Narwal: zero to hero to zero
In a PKL match that will be remembered for a long, long time, the Thalaivas scripted more history in this incredible season for the franchise. They edged out UP Yoddhas 6-4 in a tie-breaker after they were tied 36-36 in the regulation 40 minutes.
The teams' star raiders Narender Hoshiyar and Pardeep Narwal scored 12 raid points each, but perhaps the defining moment of the match was a Narendar tackle on Pardeep.
Pardeep was quiet in the first half as the Thalaivas' left corner Sahil Gulia had his number. Gulia's first three tackles on Pardeep were all successful, but the PKL's greatest-ever raider came back with a vengeance.
He scored nine tackle points in the second half, three of which came with less than a minute to go, in a stunning super raid, which gave the Yoddhas a two-point lead, which was soon reduced to one with Ajinkya Pawar given a 'free' point for the defender pushing him back into his own half.
BIG. GAME. PLAYER ��
Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting KING Pardeep Narwal ��#UPvCHE #SaansRokSeenaThok #YoddhasHum #vivoProKabaddi #FantasticPanga #GMRGroup #GMRSports pic.twitter.com/rN5KKL30wZ
- U.P. YODDHAS (@UpYoddhas) December 13, 2022
With just over 30 seconds to go, Pardeep came in for the Yoddhas' last raid, and the Thalaivas were up to the baulk line, determined to let Pardeep struggle even for a legitimate raid.
However, in a bizarre move, with 20 seconds left on the clock, Pardeep lunged to try and get over the line to legitimise the raid, but was caught in a sensational ankle hold by Narender and gobbled up by the rest of the Thalaivas defence. What should have been the Thalaivas desperate for a point on their last raid became an easy empty raid to take the match into a tie-breaker where the Thalaivas prevailed.
After the match, Pardeep said it was the first time it has happened to him where he has been caught in an attempt at just a legitimate raid. What a time for a failure like that to happen.