Naveen Kumar registered a 52-35 win over defending champions Bengal Warriors of Dabang Delhi in a Pro Kabaddi League match here on Wednesday.
Kumar picked up 24 points from 25 raids, his best performance in PKL, as Dabang Delhi avenged their previous season’s loss against the same opponents in the final.
Kumar was invincible as he was in thick of the word go and every time he stepped in to raid the Bengal defense was left looking for answers.
In another match, Gujarat Giants and UP Yoddha shared the spoils at a 32-32 tie in a pulsating contest.
Gujarat Giants will regret the result as they led for most of the match, taking a decent 20-14 lead at the break, while UP Yoddha made a stellar comeback in the second half.
Rakesh Narwal was the star raider for Gujarat Giants with 13 points, backed by Ajay Kumar, while Girish Ernak (4 tackle points) was a live-wire in the defence.
For UP Yoddha, Pradeep Narwal scored 11 raid points and got enough support from Surendra Gill with six points.
Kumar got off to a good start in the match between Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors when he was on money and was touching Mohammad Nabibakhsh. In his next raid, he lured the left corner to catch the ankle and foiled the attempt.
In the blink of an eye, Naveen Kumar came up with another successful raid to take a 5-1 lead for Dabang Delhi.
Such was the success of their raid that Bengal Warriors went ‘all out’ twice in the first 12 minutes of the game, with the scoreboard reading 7-21.
With every passing raid, the scoreboard was ticking up for the Delhi team as Kumar and Vijay, backed by Jeeva Kumar in defense, put their team in a healthy position.
Kumar’s agility was worth watching. He soon achieved his 25th consecutive Super 10 in the league as he mercilessly took down defenders. Bengal Warriors also looked weak in defense and lacked conviction.
Just before the end of the first half, Naveen stumbled when he lost in a Super Tackle with the Bengal defense coming together for the first time in the match. However, by then Dabang Delhi was ahead of 33-15.
After the break, Bengal’s defense looked to be as Abozar Mighani sent Ashu Malik off the mat. Bengal tried to bounce back at 22-34, but Vijay soon secured his Super 10 to put Delhi in a strong position at 38-24.
Kumar then returned to take his 20th raid point of the night as Delhi cruised to 40-25. The fact that veteran Manjit Chhillar looked off-colour in defense for Delhi, Kumar was eclipsed with the show.