Dabang Delhi K.C. beat Tamil Thalaivas in a 30-29 thriller at The Arena in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Ajay Thakur was the highest scorer in the game with 14 points, including a Super 10. But it was Meraj Sheykh’s last-gasp super raid that made the difference and handed Delhi only their second win of the season.
Delhi started the match on the attack with skipper Sheykh targeting both of Chennai’s corners throughout the opening period. Rohit Baliyan and Ravi Dalal offered Meraj good support in offence early on but a super tackle by the Thalaivas, followed by a successful do-or-die raid by Thakur made it 5-5 eight minutes into the game.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw both sides keep abreast of each other with Sheykh and Thakur doing the bulk of the scoring for their respective teams. The half ended on the back of another super tackle by the Thalaivas to make it 12-12 at the break.
The first points of the second period went Chennai’s way after their third super tackle of the match. Thakur then guided his young side on the mat, scoring crucial do-or-die raids to open a three-point gap between the teams.
Dabang’s first super tackle of the night by substitute Abolfazl Maghsodlou, however, narrowed the deficit to one point momentarily. Resolute defending by the Thalaivas coupled with errors from Delhi’s defence though made it 19-16 in favour of Chennai heading into the last 10 minutes.
Maghsodlou, who was Delhi’s last man on the mat after quick raids from Thakur, wasn’t going to give in without a fight and even managed to pick up four points – two touch points and two bonus points - before finally succumbing to the All-Out in the 34th minute.
With the Thalaivas leading 25-22 going into the closing stages, it was a matter of seeing out the game for the Season 5 debutants. Soon, Thakur pulled off a pivotal three-point do-or-die raid to open up a four-point lead and give his team some breathing space heading into the final stages.
Chennai’s four-point lead was cut down to just one in the 39th, minute, setting up yet another nervy finish for the southerners. And wouldn’t you know it, the nerves were exactly what got the better of the Thalaivas as they allowed a stunning super raid by Sheykh in the last minute of the match to make it 30-28 in favour of Delhi! Thakur did pull a point back for Chennai but it wasn’t enough for them to prevent Delhi celebrating a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Check out our snapshots from this match here.