The match was billed as a head to head between two of the country’s top raiders.

Naveen Kumar was the star for Dabang Delhi K.C. as they beat Puneri Paltan 41–30 in their Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 opener at the Sheraton Grand, Whitefield in Bengaluru. The prolific raider scored 16 points and was ably matched by his raiding partner Vijay (9 points), as they gave Pune defenders a torrid time on the mat.

The match was billed as a head to head between two of the country’s top raiders – Naveen Kumar of Delhi and Rahul Chaudhari of Pune – and the early minutes showed glimpses of both athletes and their abilities. Rahul opened the scores for Pune in the Pro Kabaddi League match. who despite lacking the experience of Delhi, seemed keen to match them blow for blow.

But Naveen “express” Kumar had other plans as he clinched points raid after raids to reduce the Pune men on the mat. With Vijay taking the role of the secondary raider, the Delhi duo inflicted the first all out in the 8th minute to make the scores 10-5 in their favour.

Experienced Ajay Thakur didn’t have to make a single raid for Delhi in this Pro Kabaddi League match despite starting the match as the Season 8 league winners ran riots to clinch another ALL OUT with 3 minutes remaining in the half to open up at 11 point lead. Nitin Tomar, Pune’s star raider wasn’t going to let the Delhi team run away with the lead though.  He reduced the Delhi to two men on the court but Vijay produced a successful raid to prevent an ALL OUT and end the first half 22-15.

Pune coach and Kabaddi legend Anup Kumar had asked his men to target Delhi’s Manjeet Chhillar and that is exactly what they did in the second half. The Delhi defender’s error gave Pune the opportunity to seal an ALL OUT in the 6th minute of the second half to close the gap from Dabang to just four points.

But a revived Naveen Kumar was in no mood to let Pune sniff an opportunity. He claimed his Super 10, tackled Rahul Chaudhari, and then touched Nitin Tomar in three successive moves to shift the momentum to Delhi. Vijay ensured Dabang’s attack was two-headed with high-quality raids as they inflicted another all out with five minutes remaining in the match. Aslam Inamdar’s late cameo wasn’t enough for Pune to make a comeback.

Haryana Steelers go down against Patna Pirates 

Haryana Steelers played out a close encounter against the Patna Pirates in their first match of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8. Pirates attained momentum in the second half, however, the Steelers kept fighting to earn the lead before going down 39-42 in the match. Rohit Gulia was Haryana Steelers’ best player with 10 raid points in the game.

Haryana Steelers took the lead early on in the match, however, the Patna Pirates picked up a few points quickly and took the lead at 12-7 in the 11th minute. However, Rohit Gulia got the Steelers back into the match with a Super Raid in the 12th minute helping his team take the lead at 14-12. Moments later, the Haryana team carried out an All Out and extended their lead by 5 points at 18-13. The Steelers defence also backed up their raiders with some fantastic tackles as the teams went into the break with Haryana leading at 22-18.

Patna team got off to a strong start after the break as Monu Goyat carried out a couple of raids in the opening minutes of the second half. The Pirates carried out an All Out in the 26th minute to get back in the lead at 27-26. The Steelers tried to fight back, but the Pirates defence stood tall and kept extending the lead. In the 29th minute, the Steelers defence unit carried out a fantastic tackle and reduced the Pirates’ lead. However, Goyat carried out a raid moments later and helped Patna take a six-point lead at 33-27. 

The Steelers fought back with a Super Tackle in the 32nd minute and carried out another Super Tackle moments later to reduce Patna’s lead. The Patna side led by just two points at 34-32 in the 33rd minute. Goyat carried out another raid and helped Patna take a five-point lead at 37-32.

However, Surender Nada kept Haryana in the match with a magnificent tackle in the 36th minute of the match. Gulia carried out a raid in the dying minutes of the match to help Haryana inch closer to Patna’s score. However, the Pirates held on to their lead and clinched a thriller.

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