It is match day 9 and after bidding Kolkata farewell, the caravan rolled into the nation's capital, Delhi. The Star Sports Pro Kabaddi league has captivated audiences across the first two host cities, with crowds steadily increasing with the passing of every match day. The response from the nation at large has been more than fantastic. The opening night of Kabaddi witnessed 22 million viewers in India, 10 times more than the number of Indians that tuned into the opening night of the FIFA World Cup. Put into context that is the most encouraging sign for a sport that is yet to reach its full potential, there is only one way now, the relentless march forward, onto bigger and greater achievements.
Playing any sport in the capital ha always been testing, but given that Delhi is also surrounded by what is considered the hot bed of kabaddi enthusiasts, the expectation that Delhi would rise to the occasion was a foregone thought, until the gates of the famed Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium opened at just under half past six, and the response was overwhelming. Thousands of supporters flooded the venue, and cheered through the hour-long wait for the beginning of the first match. Delhi was set to take on the faltering Telugu Titans on the first of four home matches spread out over 4 match days. Both of these teams haven't enjoyed the greatest luck so far in the tournament, Delhi entered this match in 5th place and the Titans were in 7th place. The incentive for Dabang Delhi was two-fold, playinga at home and knowing that a victory here for Delhi could potentially move them into 3rd spot in the league. The Titans however, in a much worse position desperately needed a win to lift themselves up from the near bottom of the table.
The match began with an explosive raid from Surjeet Narwal who tagged 3 members of the Titan's anti and squeezed through the incoming challenges to make it back home and send the home fans into frenzy. Despite the dream start, Delhi were soon behind, through some fine raiding work by Deepak Huda and the lightning quick Rahul Chaudhari. Rahul seems to have found the form that eluded him in Kolkata, but his disciplinary problems certainly had followed him from the city of joy. An unnecessary challenge on an already defeated raider earned him his second green card of the tournament so far.
Delhi certainly looked like a team sprung to life by the masses of fans who screamed and chanted for them, none more so than Surjeet Narwal, who put on a magnificent show through the first half, rescuing Delhi on 2 occasions from surrendering Lona points to the Titans. He stood tall and came back fighting, showing no fear in his raids and was also a massive value add to the otherwise porous Delhi defense. Delhi played most of the first half with 3 players on the field, such was the success of Huda and Chaudhari's raids. At the lemon break Delhi were trailing the Titans 23-18.
Surjeet's dismissal enabled the Titans to finally tag out the Delhi team and score their first Lona points on the night. Delhi were starting to lose some serious ground to the Titans as the second half rolled on. The Titans have developed a reputation for having a resolute defense, and seem to have learnt from their mistake of defending too high up the line in their loss to the Pirates in Kolkata.
Delhi Coach Arjun Singh brought on the muscular Ehsan Fard in an attempt to stop Rahul Chaudhuri and Deepak Huda, and although he contributed toward Delhi shortening the gap, eventually however the Titans looked too strong for the Delhi unit and registered their first victory in the league putting them in fifth place, a level above the Dabangs.