Bulls stay alive with win

Bulls stay alive with win

Bangalore outfit edges Telugu Titans 27-26 in crucial encounter

Bulls stay alive with win

Bengaluru Bulls snatched a last-gasp winner to beat Telugu Titans 27-26 in a thriller in the Pro Kaba­ddi League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday. 

Needing a point to assure themselves of a semifinal spot at the hosts' expense, Titans' raider, Deepak Hudda, went for the kill after the clock had stopped but the Bulls' antis successfully pinned him to the ground to snatch all five points from an encounter which developed like an Alfred HItchcock film before reaching a crescendo as the second half wore on. 

The victory also sees Bulls leapfrog the Titans into fourth spot. Both are on 42 points but the Bulls (+35) lead the Titans (+26) because of a better scoring difference (cumulative match points won minus cumulative match points lost). 

Bulls, who face table-toppers Jaipur Pink Panthers at the same venue on Wednesday, will reach the semifinal as long as they don't lose the encounter by more than nine points. If they lose by nine points, they will still go through because they have more away wins (5) as compared to the Titans (3).

The hosts, who were backed by a vociferous home crowd, came into the match knowing that a loss would dump them out of the tournament, while the Titans knew that a win would take them into the knockouts.  

Given that there was lots at stake, both the teams started in a cautious manner before the Bulls stole a march thanks to Dharmaraj Cheralathan who took out two antis, and also getting a lona in the process. The play earned the hosts four points, which put them firmly in the lead at 10-4. 

Bulls, staying true to their name, further extended their advantage to 15-6 as their antis were smothering the Titans' raiders. At the half-way stage, it seemed that the Bulls were headed towards the semis, enjoying a handsome lead of 17-10.  But Titans came roaring back in the second half and even executed a lona of their own as they took the lead 18-17. 

Ajay Thakur, who became only the eighth raider in the league to score more than 100 raid points, was the top marksman for Bulls with five outs but he was just off his pace a little bit as both the sides weren't sure of what strategy to follow in the closing stages. 

Titans then led 25-24 with 150 seconds remaining before Bulls grabbed a buzzer beater.  Jaipur, Patna Pirates and U Mumba have already qualified for the semis.