Rohit Baliyan sizzled with a last-minute Super Raid as U Mumba edged out three-time champions Patna Pirates 34-30 in a crucial encounter of the Pro Kabaddi at the TransStadia arena on Friday.
Both former champions went into the match after a patchy run of form with more losses than wins in their previous seven matches but U Mumba’s clever strategy finally paid dividends as they overcame an error-prone Patna in a thriller.
The first half started brightly for the Pirates with Pardeep Narwal picking up a point in his very first raid and sending Mumbai’s key defender Surinder Singh to the dugout.
But U Mumba weathered the early storm and clawed their way back in the game. Their star defender Sandeep Narwal produced a super tackle in the fifth minute to knockout Pardeep and level the points.
An error in judgment by Patna raider Jang Kun Lee, stepping out of bounds, handed another two points and the momentum to the Mumbai side.
Sandeep Narwal’s all-round effort, which also saw him reach a Pro Kabaddi milestone of 500 points, and Athul MS’ raiding helped U Mumba cover-up for the absence of their raider Abhishek Singh.
In fact, it was his 17th-minute raid that fetched U Mumbai two crucial points and reduced Patna to a single player on the mat, paving the way for the match’s first all-out.
The first half ended 22-9 in favour of U Mumba.
Pirates started the second-half strongly, largely due to the introduction of Harendra Kumar who brought more defensive stability into the team.
A much-improved performance from Korean raider Lee helped Patna close the gap on Mumbai and inflict an all-out in the 11th minute of the second half.
Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou’s raid with seven minutes remaining on the clock took out both Surinder Singh and Sandeep Narwal to reduce the gap to 5 points.
The Iranian was in the thick of things for Patna in the final minutes with two successful raids.
The dying moments of the match were a frenzy with Patna sniffing another all-out but Rohit Baliyan produced a series of raids, including a super raid in the final minute of the match to see U Mumba through.
“We made a lot of advanced tackles and mistakes in the defence. Especially in crucial moments where the game should have shifted the balance in favour for us,” lamented Patna coach Ram Meher Singh who saw his side drop to ninth in the table.
U Mumba captain Fazel Atrachali blamed the referee’s poor performance in the game but was also quick to point out that his side was perhaps a little lucky to go home with a win.
The Mumbai team’s victory helped them climb to fourth in the table.
Panthers march on, Fortunegiants continue to struggle
Jaipur Pink Panthers soared to the top of Pro Kabaddi standings with a hard-fought 22-19 win over home side Gujarat Fortunegiants who fell to their sixth straight loss, thus ending their home leg without a win.
It was a tight encounter from the outset with both teams playing a cautious game, waiting for the do-or-die raids to score the points.
Jaipur Pink Panthers seemed to have gained an edge in the 10th minute when they opened up a 7-4 lead, but Gujarat bounced back to level the scores four minutes later.
Deepak Hooda helped Jaipur regain their three-point lead only for Gujarat to reduce the deficit to one point at half-time.
The second half was a tactical battle where no team was able to break clear of the. The lead exchanged hands at numerous points, but Jaipur held their nerves better in the end to claim the victory.
The action now moves to Chennai where Tamil Thalaivas take on Bengaluru Bulls before Bengal Warriors take on Dabang Delhi.
(With PTI inputs)