Pro Kabaddi 2019: Pardeep Narwal's stunning counter-attack goes in vain as Dabang Delhi KC eke out close win

Narwal, 22, lifted Pirates from a horror start that saw them slip to a 23-7 deficit inside first seven minutes of the match and brick by brick, raid by raid, single-handedly resurrected Pirates even as the partisan home crowd brought the house down.

Shantanu Srivastava August 31, 2019 09:58:31 IST
Pro Kabaddi 2019: Pardeep Narwal's stunning counter-attack goes in vain as Dabang Delhi KC eke out close win
  • Pardeep Narwal scored 18 raid points but couldn't save Patna Pirates from a 38-35 loss to Dabang Delhi KC.

  • The contest was also billed as the raiding slugfest between Narwal and Naveen, and the young sensation didn't disappoint either, scoring 15 points to Narwal's 18.

  • The result also means Delhi head to Bengaluru firmly in pole position while Pirates languish at the last place.

New Delhi: Pardeep Narwal's superhuman effort lit up New Delhi's Thyagaraj Sports Complex on Friday, but failed to pull Patna Pirates over the finish line as they fell short against Dabang Delhi KC in a nail-biting encounter that went 38-35 in hosts' favour.

Pro Kabaddi 2019 Pardeep Narwals stunning counterattack goes in vain as Dabang Delhi KC eke out close win

File image of Pardeep Narwal. Twitter/@Patna Pirates

Narwal, 22, lifted Pirates from a horror start that saw them slip to a 23-7 deficit inside first seven minutes of the match and brick by brick, raid by raid, single-handedly resurrected Pirates even as the partisan home crowd brought the house down.

Narwal's bloodymindedness gave Pirates more than a glimmer of hope as he created chances at regular intervals and converted them too. He scored 18 of Pirates' 35 points and was clearly the best raider on view.

The five-minute period between the seventh and the 12th minutes of the game gave ample early signs of the storm that Narwal was about to unleash. He followed his back-to-back successful raids with an All Out and the score suddenly became 24-17 - still a very comfortable lead for Delhi but enough indications that Narwal had warmed up nicely. In those five minutes, Pirates ran away with nine points and conceded just one.

The teams went into half-time at 26-17, but the tide was turning. Narwal began the second half with another successful raid, and slowly, Pirate's defence too began to come good. Delhi, meanwhile, went for safety-first approach and a lot of empty raids followed. It almost backfired as Narwal was busy collecting crucial points.

With less than five minutes remaining and the score 36-28 in Delhi's favour, Narwal turned on the beast mode and launched a stunning assault on the hosts. Time and again, he would go deep and entice the defenders to tackle him, and just like that, his towering frame would slip from their grasp, chipping away momentum and points.

A successful raid was followed by an All Out (36-32) before two more raid points - all accrued by Narwal - brought the score to 36-34. That's six points in five minutes. Naveen Kumar pulled one back for Delhi before Narwal scored what would be his final point of the match.

In the end, he lay defeated and dejected under the arclights and five thousand pair of appreciative eyes. Buried under the bodies of Delhi players who took turns to congratulate him on his stupendous effort, Narwal could be forgiven if he was bitter.

"It hurts, of course. I think we committed a few mistakes early and paid the price. Once you concede that kind of lead, it is very difficult to come back," he said after the match.

The contest was also billed as the raiding slugfest between Narwal and Naveen, and the young sensation didn't disappoint either, scoring 15 points to Narwal's 18. However, Naveen's tally included a Super 10 early in the match - that ultimately proved decisive - and the teenager was significantly passive after the early bursts. Delhi played safe after the flying start, and though Pirates ran them close, not once did they concede their lead.

Explaining their strategy, Delhi coach Krishan Hooda said, "A raider like Pardeep Narwal is always a threat and we saw what he can do. So we decided to control the pace of the match in the second half. We knew we were in the lead, and we just had to hold on to win."

Naveen also became the fastest to reach 300 raid points in PKL history, taking just 33 matches to achieve the feat. He also became the first raider to score nine consecutive Super 10s, going past, ironically, Pardeep Narwal.

"Records are meant to be broken, and I am glad that a talent like Naveen as gone past a raider of the class of Narwal. He deserves every bit of his success and we are very proud of him," coach Hooda said.

"He is a very simple and hardworking kid and always looks up to seniors. Such goodness and positivity are bound to yield success," he added.

Captain Joginder Singh Narwal chimed in. "Naveen's discipline sets him apart. He is obviously talented, but he listens to every advice and instructions. He is a great prospect and I wish him well," he said.

Naveen was modest in his appraisal and credited coach Hooda and seniors in the team for his grooming. "Last season, I was quite raw and made a lot of mistakes. Coach and seniors have helped me improve my game tremendously and I owe all my success to them," he said.

With this, Delhi ended their Patna hoodoo; Pirates had won each of their last three matches against Delhi and held a 7-2 win-loss advantage in 10 previous matches, while one match ended in a tie. Delhi also extended their unbeaten streak in PKL 7 to six matches, and with their fourth win in as many matches at home, became the only franchise in the ongoing edition to boast of an all-win home record.

The result also means Delhi head to Bengaluru firmly in pole position while Pirates languish at the last place. If only statistics could talk!

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