U Mumba showed the tremendous talent bank in their squad when they fielded their second string and won comfortably 39-34 against hosts Puneri Paltan at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Kreeda Nagari here today. Having established an unassailable lead atop the league table in Season 2 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi, the Mumbai coach E Bhaskaran indicated the confidence he had in his youngsters by not fielding any of his first seven and going ahead with the bench strength.
There was no Anup Kumar, no Shabeer Bapu or say a Rishank Devadiga or even a Mohit Chhillar and yet they inflicted two all-outs on their next door neighbours. From 13-13 at half-time the Mumbai side led by Pradeep Kumar had at one time a solid 36-23 lead, courtesy Pawan Kumar. The result took U Mumba to 60 points with one match to play against Telugu Titans who are at second place with 45 points. Puneri Paltan with a point for the less than seven point loss have tallied 20 points. They are in eighth place.
With Pradeep Kumar leading from the front with five raid points in the first half the new look side took time to settle but never allowed their opponents to establish an upperhand. Pawan Kumar who was to finish with eight points with one super raid worth three, drew a blank in the first half. For Pune it was the tall Amit Rathi who collected four raid points and stand-in captain Jitesh Joshi got two. Manoj Kumar and Manoj Dhull gave a good account in defence for Pune.
U Mumba came back with renewed vigour after a pep talk by their captain cool Anup Kumar at half-time. Pawan found his rhythm almost immediately and when Bhupender started using his body blocks to perfection it was a different Mumbai side. Pradeep himself and the quiet looking Iran national captain Fazel Atrachali suddenly came up with two super tackles to pile up more pressure. This helped their team avoid the all-out which looked imminent and instead to turn the tables on their rivals. By the 30th minute the winners went up 25-20 a lead they were to never relinquish.
From thereafter it was Pawan which hit Pune and Mumbai’s win was confirmed with them leading 39-24 with less than five minutes left. A little lax play by Mumba enabled the hosts to narrow the margin of defeat. Fazel ended with six points, an expectedly good performance which gives Bhaskaran another good option.
The slightly built Iranian like his country man has tremendous speed and power at his command with which he can immobilize opposition raiders in a flash. So beware of this predator seems the message from the table toppers. Today’s performance by U Mumba will keep every team guessing about their team composition and strategy for sure.
MATCH 52 – PUNERI PALTAN VS U MUMBA
TVS best raider of the match
Pradeep Kumar (U Mumba)
Bajaj electrical inspiring defender of the match
Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)
Kolte Patil moment of the match
Pawan Kumar (U Mumba)
VIP frenchie big impression player of the match
Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)
Flipkart audience ki wish player of the match
Amit Rathi (Puneri Paltan)