In a battle of bragging rights on opening day between U Mumba and Puneri Paltan, the two teams served up a classic for the viewers and those in attendance as they fought hard for a 32-32 tie at the Jawaharlal Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. Puneri Paltan’s Nitin Tomar and U Mumba’s Siddharth Desai both scored 14 points for their respective teams while Dharmaraj Cheralathan had 4 tackle points .
The first half saw an evenly balanced game with Nitin Tomar leading the way for Puneri Paltan, scoring 9 raid points and Siddharth Desai delivering the goods for U Mumba with 9 raid points of his own. Desai consistently managed to coax veteran Sandeep Narwal into making ill-timed tackles, scoring 4 points off the Right Corner in the first period.
Mumbai gain momentum
Midway through the half, U Mumba seemed to be building a lead over their rivals, but Defender Ravi Kumar executed a perfect Dash on Desai to even the score.
However, one the opposite side of the mat, Fazel made a brilliant Dash on Rajesh Mondal followed by a Desai two-point raid which left the Paltan with just captain Girish Maruti Ernak on the mat. Dharmaraj Cheralathan’s Block on Ernak finally earned U Mumba their first and only All-Out of the match.
Tomar, by far Pune’s best player on the mat, continued to score in raids to keep the contest close for his side. While Atrachali and Cheralathan proved their value to the Mumbai-based franchise, scoring 8 tackle points amongst each other.
On the offensive side for U Mumba, rookie raider Siddharth Desai played well beyond his age, scoring 14 of his team’s 20 raid points on the day. The highlight of his day came with 16 minutes left in the second half, when he scored the first Super Raid of his VIVO Pro Kabaddi career, enabling U Mumba to take a four-point lead and close in on an All-Out.
Tomar, though, had other ideas, managing three straight successful raids to cut U Mumba’s lead to just 2 points.
With the game slightly in U Mumba’s favour at 29-28, , captain Atrachali executed two perfect Ankle Holds on Sandeep Narwal and G B More to maintain his team’s upper hand. Cheralathan’s brilliant tackle on Tomar with a minute left took U Mumba’s lead to 32-30 and seemed to have sealed a derby win for his side.
But there was still drama left in this game as Monu got Atrachali to leave the Paltan trailing by just one point before captain Ernak soured Desai’s brilliant debut by tackling him on U Mumba’s last raid of the match and earning a well-fought draw for his team.