On Saturday night, at Amdavad’s EKA arena, Bengal Warriors, missing their inspirational captain Maninder Singh, defeated table-toppers Dabang Delhi to win the Pro Kabaddi League 2019 final. The Warriors are now the champions of the Pro Kabaddi League, after beating Delhi in a hard-fought 39-34 final, despite being 0-6 down in the first five minutes. Bengal finished second in the league table. Yet, after 137 matches in 91 days, the Warriors pipped the ‘favorites’ to the title.
Here are three major takeaways from the pulsating Pro Kabaddi League 2019 Final:
NAVEEN KUMAR IS THE TRAGIC HERO
19-year-old wunderkind raider Naveen Kumar, who finished third in the individual-points standings (303) behind seniors Pardeep Narwal and Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, won the Raider of the Final award (18 points on the day), as well as the MVP award for the season – the highest honor there is in Pro Kabaddi today. He pulled off 21 consecutive Super 10s for his Delhi team, leading them to the final, but finished on the losing side on the big day despite putting his heart on the line. He may not have been the best raider of the season, but Kumar is destined for big things with his PKL 2019 performance – and along with Sehrawat, will be the top-draw for next season.
Stand-in Bengal captain, Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Nabibakhsh, stepped up on the big day, inflicting a solo all-out on Delhi with a four-point raid, and winning 10 points in a final that had the more balanced team win the match. The Iranian was a towering presence for the Warriors and won the Gamechanger of the final award.
DELHI’S CRUMBLING DEFENSE
Delhi captain Joginder Narwal had an awful day, while his defenses were breached consistently with three all-outs against the team – the third one making the score 24-34 and a lost cause at a crucial juncture. In contrast, Jeeva Kumar marshaled the defenses brilliantly for Bengal, who kept young Naveen quiet for the final third of the match and restricted them to the odd bonus point. Narwal was responsible for being slow and deep, letting Bengal raider Ravindra Kumawat deliver just when his team needed to in the end. For the last three matches in a row, Dabang Delhi’s defense crumbled under pressure, exposing the cracks that were showing towards the end of the league stages.
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