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 VIVO Pro Kabaddi League 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.
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.
Mighani soon sent Vijay on his way with a tight ankle hold as Bengal looked to reduce the arrears at 29-41.
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.