Gujarat Fortunegiants ended their home leg at The Arena in Ahmedabad on Thursday undefeated with a 26-26 draw against Bengal Warriors. Sachin top-scored for Gujarat with eight points, while Deepak Narwal bagged a total of nine points for Bengal, including a crucial last point of the match that ended the game as a tie.
Both teams made a cautious start to the match with the score reading 4-3 in favour of the hosts seven minutes into the game. Sachin looked the brightest for the Fortunegiants and had five points to his name in the opening 15 minutes, while Narwal looked most impressive amongst the Bengal raiders and had four points in the kitty at the same stage.
The Warriors began to pull away from Gujarat in the closing five minutes of the half and inflicted the first All-Out of the match on the Fortunegiants with two minutes remaining in the first half. It was 14-10 in favour of the visitors at the break as Narwal and Sachin ended the half with touch points for Bengal and Gujarat respectively.
Bengal began the second half with a successful raid by Maninder Singh, followed by a brilliant dash from their defence on Sachin. With young Sachin spending time on the bench, it was now up to Gujarat’s captain Sukesh Hegde to bring his team back into the match.
Hegde managed to pick up four points for Gujarat in the absence of Sachin and made it 16-19 with 10 minutes left to play in the game. Sachin then returned on the mat to further reduce the deficit to two points as the home crowd unleashed a massive roar of approval.
A thunderous block by Gujarat’s Abozar Mighani then made it a one-point game in the 33rd minute. The Fortunegiants were level a minute later courtesy of a successful do-or-die raid by substitute Mahendra Rajput.
The hosts got their noses in front in the 36th minute after another successful raid by Rajput. However, a three-point raid by Bengal’s Bhupender Singh – two touch points and a bonus point – meant that it was 23-21 in favour of the Warriors.
Once again it was Rajput who did the damage for Gujarat with a five-point play thanks to a super raid that also inflicted an All-Out on Bengal. Narwal responded with a two-point raid for Bengal with less than 90 seconds remaining on the clock. The responsibility of the last raid for the Warriors was understandably handed to Narwal and he delivered the goods for his team with a one-point raid to tie the game at 26-26.
Check out our snapshots from this match here.