Patna: In an exciting night for kabaddi fans, Season 3 finalists U Mumba pulled off a stunning 24-23 win in the final minutes against Bengaluru Bulls. Captain Anup Kumar put in a champion shift to score 11 points with Rakesh Kumar and Sunil chipping in with a stellar performance in defence.
The first half began on level terms with former U Mumba raider Pawan Kumar securing the first point while star raider Rishank Devadiga failed to get off to a good start. Gurvinder Singh, the former Patna Pirates player, started and opened his tally off the night with a clever raid while Sunil atoned for his mistakes in the previous match against Telugu Titans and put in a good tackle to take the score to 4-3. Former U Mumba corner defender Mohit Chhillar and U Mumba captain Anup Kumar were seen exchanging smiles and keeping the mood relatively light but with teams shifting up and down on the table, the desire to win was strong. Rishank earned his first point of the night but was at the wrong end of a super tackle courtesy Bulls captain Surender Nada and had to sit out for most of the first half.
The 'Most Valuable Player' of the tournament in Season 3, Rohit Kumar Choudhary was impressive in the first half, effecting an all-out on U Mumba just before half time by eliminating both Anup and Rakesh in one ago. With the half-time score at 8-14 in favour of the Bulls, a turnaround by the men in orange and black was desperately needed in the second half.
The second half saw all 7 U Mumba men on the mat with Rishank getting another raid point and the score moving to 10-15. Catch-up was on the minds of the U Mumba players and defender Surjeet managed to subdue his Services teammate Rohit with a fantastic tackle that gave signs of things to come. The score at 15-18, captain Anup with the help of Rakesh picked off the Bengaluru players one by one and soon the all-out came for the Bulls in the 33rd minute, levelling the score at 20 all. It was imperative for U Mumba to end the Patna leg with only a win and the lead kept shifting hands until Anup's tactics saw his team take the lead. The buzzer raid by Pawan saw the Bulls earn 1 point and finish on the losing side with U Mumba winning 24-23.
On the significance of returning to his old stomping ground, Rakesh Kumar was complimentary of how the Patna crowd treated their former champion Rohit Kumar Choudhary. "Rohit did get more support than me here and I'm happy for him because he led them to the title last season and he deserves it." On the reason for their nervy win, Rakesh put it down to his comrade and captain, Anup Kumar. "Anup's planning and experience has helped us immensely in the past and it worked again for us tonight in the dying moments. We targeted (Surender) Nada tonight and we were successful."
When asked about Rakesh's role as a defender, coach Bhaskaran explained that his role adapted to the need of the situation. "He is an all-rounder and a very experienced one at that. We trust him to adapt to a needed role at any moment and get us points. We will continue to use him that way because he can turn a match on its head and win it for us."
U Mumba now have a long break before they take on Jaipur Pink Panthers in Bengaluru on Thursday, the 14th of July.