Kolkata: With four core players participating in the South Asian Games, an inexperienced U Mumba grabbed a last minute win over Bengaluru Bulls in Season 3 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi on the back of inspired raiding from Rishank Devadiga and dogged determination from stand in captain Rakesh Kumar.
The first half began with the Bengaluru side quickly grabbing an all-out in the 9th minute to take a 6 point lead over U Mumba. The champions were blown away by the defensive strength of the youthful Bulls side and Rishank was the only raider who managed to come away with a successful raid. The match result seemed inevitable before the half time whistle was blown with U Mumba suffering a second all out in the 15th minute with the score reading 9-20. A super raid by Rakesh and Fazel Atrachali didn't prevent them from going into half time trailing 10-21.
A motivational half time talk from coach Bhaskaran brought about a complete change in the side. Pawan Kumar was brought in for Prapanjan who wasn't successful in his first half. Despite empty raids by Bulls captain Surjeet Narwal, the U Mumba defence clicked to tackle both Vinoth and Pawan who tried to jump over the chain but failed. With the score slowly inching towards a tie at 25-28, Surjeet Narwal came in for a raid but was dominated by Jeeva Kumar which then reduced the Bulls to two men and the chance of an all-out. Rakesh then decided to send himself in for a raid which bore fruit as he got a touch on the corner defender thus bringing the score to 27-28. The all out for Bengaluru was inevitable and an empty raid by Rishank closed out the match 29-28 in favour of the men in orange and black.
At the post match press conference, Rakesh Kumar was ecstatic about closing out an important match. "With the four boys away on national duty, it was important for us to win today. Anup (Kumar) also told me that we can win these matches easily because our squad is very talented. Everyone is equal and everyone gets a chance to play which is the best thing about our team."
When asked about the turning point of the match that inspired the comeback, Rakesh pointed out two things. "Jeeva's tackle on Surjeet got us closer to the all-out that we needed while Rishank's raids were brilliant. Of course, when I went to raid, the win wasn't sure but I told myself that I needed one point to get us over the line."
U Mumba travel to Pune and face Puneri Paltan in the first Maharashtra derby of Season 3 on the 13th of February.