Ranga Reddy seemed to have come out with a very, very simple plan tonight.
Step 1: Stop Mallikarjun.
Step 2: That’s it. That’s the plan, there are no other steps.
And it was a strategy that worked flawlessly. Mallikarjun, who is undoubtedly the star of Gadwal Gladiators and arguably of the entire League, was being relied upon too heavily by his team, and so the Raiders turned their strength into a weakness. With their captain Malli benched for half the game, the Gladiators were unable to rally around even their powerhouse Srikanth and, and gave up several easy points for the Raiders to claim.
The first half closed with Ranga Reddy leading by 7 points, and although Gadwal managed to overtake them by a couple of points later on, it was a short lived respite. Muneesh was on fire tonight, and he tore up the court with his raiding. Nilesh was an immovable object, and repeatedly slammed the Gladiators into the dust. It’s no surprise that they both claimed Best Raider and Best Defender tonight. Ranga Reddy could not have finished at 37-17 without them.