The defending champions have lost both of their first two matches in Pro Kabaddi League 2021.

It was a show of talent, grit and prowess from Naveen Kumar of Dabang Delhi K.C. as he almost single-handedly decimated Bengal Warriors in Match 19 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 at the Sheraton Grand Whitefield Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Naveen Kumar picked up 24 points from 25 raids, his best performance in the history of PKL, as Dabang Delhi K.C. avenged their last season’s defeat in the final with a massive 52-35 win over defending champions Bengal Warriors.

Naveen was unstoppable – he was in the thick of things from the word go and the Bengal defence were left looking for answers every time he stepped on to raid.

Naveen Kumar started the proceedings well when he was on the money with a touch on Mohammad Nabibakhsh. In his next raid, he enticed the left corner to go for an ankle hold and thwarted the attempt. With a blink of an eye, Naveen Kumar made it 5-1 for Dabang Delhi K.C. with another successful raid.

Such was the enormity of his raids that Bengal Warriors were all out twice in the first 12 minutes of play, with the scoreboard reading 7-21, at the second all out.

The scoreboard kept ticking for the Delhi team with every passing raid as Naveen and Vijay, with support from Jeeva Kumar in the defence put their team in a healthy position.

Naveen Kumar stretched himself to the hilt and his agility was a treat to watch. He soon notched up his 25th consecutive Super 10 in the league as he mercilessly took defenders in his wake. It was also accentuated by the fact that the Bengal Warriors looked insipid in defence and lacked conviction.

Just before the first half ended, Naveen stumbled when he lost out on a super tackle with the Bengal defence coming together for the first time in the match. However, by then Dabang Delhi K.C. were way ahead at 33-15.

WATCH: Dabang Delhi beat Bengal Warriors

After the break, the Bengal defence seemed to have got their act together when Abozar Mighani sent Ashu Malik out of the mat.

The Bengal Warriors skipper Maninder Singh rose to the occasion with a superb five-point raid when he cornered all the Delhi defenders and took them in his wake as Bengal tried to stage a comeback at 22-34.

However, Delhi wasn’t a team to keep quiet for a long time. Vijay soon got his Super 10 when he foxed the Bengal Warriors’ right cover and the right corner to put Delhi in a position of strength at 38-24. Naveen Kumar then returned to pick up his 20th raid point of the night as Delhi cruised at 40-25.

However, Dabang Delhi K.C. rose from strength to strength as they inflicted another all out on Bengal Warriors when Naveen got a flying touch on Mighani with the score reading 49-31.

The fact that veteran Manjeet Chhillar looked off-colour in the defence for Delhi was eclipsed with Naveen’s show. Maninder Singh (16 raid points) and Sukesh Hegde (9 raid points) tried their best for Bengal Warriors but in the end, they were left with plenty to ponder as they never recovered well from Naveen’s onslaught in PKL season 8.

UP Yoddha stages second-half comeback against Gujarat Giants

Gujarat Giants and UP Yoddha shared the spoils at 32-32  tie in a pulsating match, laden with good all-round performances, in Match 20 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.

Gujarat Giants would rue the result as they led for most parts of the match, holding a good 20-14 lead at the break, while UP Yoddha staged a spectacular comeback in the second half to give nothing away and make Gujarat work hard for every point.

Rakesh Narwal was the star raider for Gujarat Giants with 13 points, supported by Ajay Kumar while Girish Ernak (4 tackle points) was a live-wire in the defence. For UP Yoddha Pardeep Narwal sizzled with 11 raid points and he got ample support from Surender Gill with 6 points. Pardeep Narwal started well for UP Yoddha with a splendid two-pointer when he foiled a defensive tackle from Rakesh and Girish Ernak. Ajay Kumar then put Gujarat on the scoresheet with his first raid when he got a running touch on Surender Gill.

WATCH: UP Yoddha and Gujarat Giants play out a tie

Surender Gill avoided an all-out for UP Yoddha as he accounted for Ravinder Pahal and in the process also scored a bonus point in a good raid.  Soon UP Yoddha restored parity at 7-7 when Surender Gill and Sumit felled Rakesh.

It was Gujarat Giants who slowly rose into control when Rakesh beat two UP Yoddha defenders, scored four points and inflicted an all out on the Uttar Pradesh team at 7-12. However, a defensive lapse by Gujarat Giants on Pardeep Narwal helped UP Yoddha crawl back at 8-14 as the ‘Dubki King’ scored a touchpoint.

UP Yoddha’s defence came to the party when Ashu Singh and Nitesh Kumar combined well to stop Rakesh Narwal on the super raid. At the stroke of halftime, Gujarat Giants held on to a lead at 20-14 with impressive performances from Girish Ernak and Rakesh Narwal.

UP Yoddha stood a better team in the second half negating all advance tackle attempts from Gujarat Giants and restored parity at 22-22 when Pardeep Narwal got a toe touch, upheld by a review, on Sunil Kumar. Rakesh Narwal soon completed his Super 10 of the night while the Gujarat Giants held on to a slender lead at 25-23. Ajay Kumar then dodged two UP Yoddha defenders as he freed himself from an ankle hold to give a slender advantage to Gujarat Giants at 29-26.

Rohit Tomar then levelled the scores at 31-31 with a running hand touch on Parvesh Bhainswal as the game went into the business end with nothing to separate both the teams as they ended at 32 points apiece.

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