U Mumba picked up their first win of their home leg on Wednesday courtesy of a 38-32 win against Haryana Steelers at the DOME@NSCI SVP Stadium. Captain Cool Anup Kumar top-scored for the Mumbaikars with eight points and was well supported by Shrikant Jadhav (6 points) in attack and Kuldeep Singh (7 points) in defence. Iranian defender Hadi Oshtorak also played his part in the win by notching up four tackle points after coming off the bench.
Speaking to the media at the post-match press conference, a delighted Anup acknowledged all of their contribution in the win. “Today Kuldeep played well and Hadi was also introduced into the game at a crucial time. He came and made [a few] good tackles and got points for the team. The raiders also played well especially Shrikant. In the do-or-die raids also he got important points for the team,” he said.
The Mumbai skipper was also quick to defend young Surinder Singh who was at fault in defence on a few occasions. “He is just 19 years old, so it will take time for him to be confident against top raiders. He has that energy which is required as well. If a defender gets out, he gets scared but he is a fierce player. So, I think it will be unfair to blame him. He has the capability to become one of the best defenders,” said Anup.
Meanwhile, Haryana coach Rambir Singh Khokhar blamed a slow start to the game for their loss. “I think our start wasn’t that good and because of that the pressure built on us. The team came back strongly and put on a fight but it’s a game and it happens sometimes. Pressure builds and there were super tackles which were made by their defenders. So, I think those were the turning points of the match,” said Khokhar.
Steelers skipper Surender Nada also agreed with his coach and pointed a finger at the defence for the defeat. “I think in the beginning the defence did nothing. I think if the defence had played well from the start then we could have won the match. The defence gifted some points to their raiders,” said Nada.