Dabang Delhi K.C. stole the show in the penultimate match of the Ahmedabad leg with a 30-29 victory over Tamil Thalaivas at the Arena on Thursday. Delhi looked destined for a fifth defeat but a brilliant super raid by Meraj Sheykh in the last minute condemned Chennai to their third loss of the season. Sheykh and fellow Iranian Abolfazl Maghsodlou were crucial in Dabang’s win, scoring nine and 11 points respectively.
Delhi coach Dr. Ramesh Bhendigiri revealed what the game-plan was heading into the nervy climax, while addressing the media at the post-match press conference. “I wanted Meraj to raid because they were expecting Abolfazl. So that was my strategy and it was successful. It’s all about strategy. He [Meraj] wasn’t performing [in the last few games] so we dropped him but he is a class player we all know that,” he said.
Commenting on Maghsodlou’s performance, star defender Nilesh Shinde, who accompanied his coach to the press conference, added: “He played really well today and those bonus points [five in total] which he got were very essential for the team.”
Meanwhile, when asked what went wrong in the last minute of the match, Chennai’s coach K Baskaran said: “Our strategy was not to give them more than one point but it didn’t happen. So that was the mistake.”
Thalaivas skipper Ajay Thakur, who scored a game-high 14 points, including a Super 10, also rued the last-minute errors made by his side. “I also didn’t expect that such a big mistake would happen because we had just one minute left in the match. We tried to make a tackle but it didn’t happen. The team was playing well but in the last minute the errors happened and we couldn’t recover from there,” he said.
The second match of the evening saw Gujarat Fortunegiants end their home leg on a bittersweet note after an adrenaline pumping 26-26 draw against Bengal Warriors, which kept their unbeaten record in Ahmedabad intact.