U Mumba showed their opponents Bengaluru Bulls the stuff champions are made of. Keeping their cool in a match where they trailed their opponents for almost 38 minutes of the match they turned the tables on their inexperienced rivals to score a heart-stopping 29-28 win. All credit to veteran Rakesh Kumar the former Indian star for having guided the under-strength U Mumba side to safer shores.
The champions were severely handicapped by the absence of Anup Kumar and the trio of Mohit Chhillar, Surender Nada and Vishal Mane, the core of their defence. This win will do wonders to their morale for the sterner tests ahead.
Fazel Atrachali the Iranian playing his first full match provided the window of opportunity to U Mumba when he held Amit Rathi with a waist hold. The next raid by Surjeet the lone man standing for the Bengaluru Bulls culminated in the last minute all-out which clinched the match for the winners.
In hindsight the strategy of Bengaluru Bulls coach Randhir Singh to utilize his skipper Surjeet Singh as a tool to run down the clock with empty raids backfired. Both will definitely rue the fact that those 20 empty raids hit them in the end. Fortune favours the brave and U Mumba waited for the opportune moment to carve out a victory in the most adverse situation.
U Mumba was down and out in the first half and their staunchest of followers wouldn’t have backed their team to bring about such a turn around. At 4-10 after the first all out in the 9th minute and 9-20 after the second in the 18th minute the situation seemed grim and the 21-10 advantage at half time surely prompted the Bengaluru coach Randhir Singh to count his chickens before they were hatched.
Otherwise he wouldn’t have taken those ultra-defensive measures of asking his trump card Surjeet to waste the time and conserve his energy. He was right partially because Shabeer Bapu Sharfudeen was nowhere his usual self, Rishank Devadiga was getting bonus points but was unable to get touch points, so important to win a match.
And on the other hand Bengaluru had the rival defence running helter skelter. Amit Rathi had stunned them with a 4 point super raid to hasten the first all-out.
Preetam Chhillar authored the all-out by touching Rakesh and Fazel Atrachali. So demoralized were the U Mumba players that they went for broke to hold substitute Pawan Kumar who had been brought in for a do-or-die raid and yielded him 3 points.
After the disappointment of the first half, U Mumba came out determined but kept on leaking points to be down at 20-27 when the final five minutes were called. The tide turned with Rakesh getting hold of raiders Pawan Kumar and Vinoth Kumar in successive raids. Yet at 27-22 the losers were well-placed.
Once panic set in Rakesh Kumar the wily old fox who had seen many a close battle sensed the opportunity and the rest his now history.
U Mumba with this third win in five matches has 15 points and is fourth in the table. Bengaluru with this their fourth loss in six games remain in sixth place.