Dabangs turn it around to win PKL opener

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After training for more than a month in the capital, The Eagles, as they are fondly called, were ready for the first match of Vivo ProKabaddi. Playing against a tough opposition, Jaipur Pink Panthers, the Dabangs had their work cut out. Panthers’ captain Manjeet Chhillar won the toss but we got the first point of the match when Viraj Landge tackled Jasvir Singh. Viraj was the most impressive Dabang in the starting few minutes as he made another dash and secured a point for us.

But due to some sloppy work in raiding and defending, Jaipur got the initial lead in the match. After 12 minutes, they were leading 13-4 as Dabangs settled themselves. Our former player, Selvamani, twisted his leg and had to leave the mat. Soon after, Abolfazel was introduced and the Iranian bagged a point straightaway. But Jaipur was strong at the other end as we trailed 9- 16 at half-time.

Coach Dr. Ramesh Bhendigiri was seen very animated and the energy transferred into the players as they turned the game on its head in the next 10 minutes. The defensive trio of Nilesh Shinde, Bajirao Hodage and Sunil Kumar was at its best as they showed their mettle. Jaipur lost their way as they suffered their first all-out of the game. At that moment, scoreboard read 14-17 with The Eagles having momentum on their side. The score was finally tied at 18-18 as we scored 9 and gave away only 2 points after half-time.

The whole team contributed as Dabangs got a good lead and inflicted another all-out on the opposition. With just 5 minutes remaining and having a healthy 6-point lead, the Dabangs were not ready to let it slip away. Nilesh Shinde scored a ‘High Five’ as the game ended 30-26 in our favour. We garnered a whooping 21 points in the second half and gave away just 10. Captain Meraj Sheykh won the 'Best Raider of the Match' and 'Moment of the Match' award while our defensive wall, Nilesh Shinde, was awarded with 'Best Defender of the Match'.

This was just the start the team needed for a big season like this. There were happy faces in the Dabang camp but coach Dr. Ramesh Bhendigiri’s was the happiest. Continue flying high, Eagles!