HYDERABAD: It was a contest between the teams of two all-rounders. In the end, the Iranian captain of Dabang Delhi — Meraj Sheykh — completely overshadowed his Jaipur Pink Panthers counterpart Manjeet Chillar to lead his side to a 30-26 victory.
Jaipur, who are also last year’s finalists, started off very well, but lost their way in the second half. The Panthers ensured their opponents were all-out within the first eight minutes of the first half with the scorecard reading 11-4. Sheykh had a slow start to his raiding routine. But, in the dying minutes of the first half, he removed the dangerous duo of Chillar and Jasvir Singh in consecutive raids.
Delhi made a resounding comeback in the second half, securing an all-out in the very first minute. Five minutes later, Jasvir’s exit by a tackle from Delhi levelled the score at 18-18. Jaipur suffered their second all-out in the second half, which signalled a probable defeat as Delhi secured a lead of six points (27-21).
Chillar could score only one point during the match and blamed himself as one of the reasons for the defeat.
“One of the main reasons for this defeat is my ordinary performance. The defence was also not on par,” a visibly disappointed Chillar said after the match. On the other hand, Sheykh garnered seven points. Delhi’s coach Dr. Ramesh Bhendigiri sounded upbeat after the match. “We have the best defenders in the league. I can confirm that. Even though we had a deficit of 7 points, we were not worried,” Dr. Ramesh opined.