Jaipur Pink Panthers beat Bengaluru Bulls 30-28 at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium in the second match of the Lucknow leg on Friday. Jasvir Singh top-scored with a high-quality Super 10 that featured eight touch points and two bonus points, while One-Man-Army Manjeet Chhillar starred in defence with a high 5 and a total of eight tackle points on his birthday.
The first five minutes saw both teams straying on the side of caution with the raiders mostly relying on bonus points to keep the scoreboard ticking. Chhillar, who was moving gingerly after hurting his knee early on, managed to pick up three tackle points inside the opening seven minutes with strong ankle holds to give the Panthers a 6-2 lead.
The Bulls though began to fightback in the last 10 minutes of the half thanks to some strong and organized defensive work by the southerners as well as the return of their skipper Rohit Kumar to the mat. Kumar, who spent most of the first half on the bench, returned to wreak havoc on Jaipur’s defence by helping his team inflict the first All-Out of the game and making it 12-8 in their favour.
The inaugural season winners responded immediately with a Jasvir super raid to make it 12-11. It would get better for the Abhishek Bachchan-owned franchise before the break after they registered their first All-Out of the match on Bengaluru in the last minute of the opening period to take a 17-14 lead into the half-time interval.
Jasvir picked up the first raid point of the second half, while Chhillar started the second period in the same way he began the first through an ankle hold. Another ankle hold then brought up the High 5 for the Panthers skipper in the 27th minute.
A textbook dash by Chhillar on Kumar two minutes later meant that Jaipur inflicted a second All-Out of the match on Bengaluru to make it 26-16 and open up a 10-point lead. The last eight minutes of the contest saw the Bulls trying to forge a comeback, cutting down the lead to 27-20 at one stage.
Chhillar tried to nip any hopes of a comeback by Bengaluru in the bud as he successfully sent Bulls skipper Kumar to the bench with five minutes left to play. Kumar, however, returned to the mat shortly after and effected an All-Out on Jaipur to make it 28-29 with a little over 10 seconds remaining.
Bulls almost tied the game by defending with a high line during the last raid in a bid to prevent Jasvir from crossing the baulk line, which would result in a point for them. Jasvir’s experience though ensured he managed a touch point in the final raid to cement the win.