New Delhi: Jaipur Pink Panthers' star all-rounder Rajesh Narwal turned in the best individual performance of the season to inflict upon Dabang Delhi a crushing 51-21 defeat in the Pro Kabaddi League here yesterday.
The 30-point margin is the biggest so far. At the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium, Rajesh, the stocky Haryanvi lad, scored 15 raid points with another three in defence dominating the proceedings. At half time the winners had a commanding lead at 22-9. It was a sweet revenge extracted by the Panthers who had lost 26-35 to the Dabangs while playing at home.
Rajesh had splendid support from captain Jasvir Singh who had nine raid points to his credit. The two combined to inflict five all-outs on the Dabangs which is another record. The victory takes the Panthers to 26 points in 10 matches, displacing Patna Pirates who have 25 in 11 matches. With just 23 points in 11 matches, the Dabangs' chances of making it to the last four have suffered a setback, as they can at the most take their tally to 38 provided they win all the remaining matches.
Dabang Delhi managed to remain within striking distance before conceding the first all-out at 6-13 by the 14th minute. The hosts managed to inflict a super tackle on Jasvir and Rajesh once as Kashiling and rising star Rohit Choudhary faltered initially. In fact Rohit's inability to breach the rival defence hit the Delhi side badly. By the time they thought of replacing him with Amit Singh midway through the second half, the deficit had climbed up to 12-31.
The Panthers did not have such problems as both Jasvir and Rajesh made up for Sonu Narwal's inabilty to perform well yesterday. Rajesh made up for Sonu by getting two in one raid to follow it up with the only super raid of the match. Jasvir impressed the most when he came up with two back to back raids that yielded two points each. The second was important because he got the third all-out to make it 40-15 by the 32nd minute.
From then on, Jaipur Pink Panthers looked keen not to lose momentum. This time, two back to back assaults by Rajesh with a super raid and a two pointer brought about the fifth all-out for Delhi and an assured win for the defending champions. Captain Jasvir Singh was very happy with the win.
"Our team played very well. The defence as well as the offence was in tandem. We played to a plan and both the defenders and raiders were on fire. Sonu and Rajesh Narwal were heroes today. They completely took the pressure off me." Jasvir said their focus was on the play-offs. "Our target is the semi-finals in Mumbai and with every victory we are inching closer."