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Pro Kabaddi 2019: An all-round team effort was the biggest positive from this win, says Gujarat Fortune Giants coach Manpreet Singh

HostsBengaluru Bullswere handed a defeat in the opening game of their home leg as they came up short against a spiritedGujarat Fortune Giantsunit, as the Sunil Kumar-led side collected an important 32-23 win in the 67th fixture as part ofPro Kabaddi 2019at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

Both the teams started the match on a bright note as Gujarat raider Sachin Tanwar, on his return from injury, picked up a bonus point but was brought down by an ankle hold from Saurabh Nandal in the first raid of the game.

The first five minutes played host to some exciting action as there was nothing to differentiate both the teams, with the score tied on 5-5. Soon, the Bulls were down to just three men on the mat, but a powerful back hold from right corner Saurabh Nandal saw the hosts effect a Super Tackle on Sachin Tanwar as the Bulls earned a handy 8-7 lead.

More importantly, this brought back ace raider Pawan Sehrawat, who struck immediately, getting a firm hand touch on Gujarat skipper Sunil Kumar to give his side a 9-7 lead ten minutes into the game.

However, a schoolboy error from Amit Sheoran and Mohit Sehrawat saw both the players step out of court that levelled scores. Sehrawat was then brought down on a Do or Die raid as the Bulls were reduced to just two men on the mat after which the home fell to their first All-Out that gave the visitors an important 14-10 lead with a little over five minutes to go in the first half.

Gujarat made most of the advantage as they continued to inflict more damage on the Bulls raiders with some clinical defending as the Sunil Kumar-led side went into the break with an imperative 18-12 lead.

The second half followed a similar template to the opening half as both teams traded blow for blow before a Super Tackle from Mahender Singh on Rohit Gulia reduced the deficit to five points.

Gujarat did tackle Mohit Sehrawat but were hit by yet another Super Tackle as Mahender and Amit Sheoran combined to keep Sachin away from the mid-line. Once Rohit Gulia was sent off to the benches, the Bulls were only two points away from equalizing, until Pawan Sehrawat was pinned down on the mat by More GB.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, the visitors did have a 22-19 advantage but the Bulls were not far from reducing the deficit, despite the pressure on the home team to strike a comeback.

Just as the game moved into the final five minutes, both teams opted for a cautious approach and were keen on playing on the Do or Die raids. The Bulls defenders struck first as More GB was off to the benches before Pawan Sehrawat was enveloped by the Gujarat defenders as well.

Facing a three-point deficit and with three minutes left on the clock, the Bulls needed something special to pull them out of troubled waters. However, a moment of brilliance from Gujarats Sachin saw him picking up two points on a Do or Die raid that gave his side a five-point lead.

Bulls Sumit Singh was brought down with a minute left on the clock as the Bulls were down to just two men on the court. A hasty tackle from Mohit Sehrawat gave Sachin an easy point before last man Amit Sheoran was tackled that resulted in yet another All-Out on the Bulls.

In the end, the Gujarat Fortune Giants finished with a 32-23 win courtesy of an all-round show from both the raiding and defensive units. The Bulls, on the other hand got their home leg campaign off to a dismal start and did not pick up a single point from this encounter.

Post the nine-point win, Gujarat Fortune Giants coach Manpreet Singh was all praise for his wards as he put the win down to a collective effort.

The important part of todays game was that we came together as a team and both units complemented each other. Throughout all the games we played thus far, we could not stitch together individual performances, but today was one of those matches where we did exceedingly well.

One of the biggest driving factors in Gujarats win was their ability to stave off the threat posed by Pawan Sehrawat, who finished with just three points from 11 raids and was a pale shadow of himself. When quizzed on the strategy behind keeping Pawan down, Manpreet Singh sported a wide grin.

We knew that Pawan Sehrawat would come and attack the defenders. He is not a raider who shys away from picking up a point every game and we knew that he would try and reach out to pick points. Our defenders were ready to tackle him and our strategy worked well.

While Manpreet Singh was a happy man, Bengaluru Bulls skipper Rohit Kumar claimed that the loss was a result of the teams inability to pick points on a consistent basis.

We were trying to pick points through the third raid all throughout the game but unfortunately, that did not work well for us. Additionally, a couple of tackles planned did not go as per plan and that was a major reason why we could not get across the line.

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