Gujarat Fortune Giants produce rousing comeback to clinch 39-35 win over U Mumba
The Gujarat Fortune Giants clinched their fifth successive win over U Mumba in as many encounters as they produced a brilliant comeback to secure a 39-35 win in their penultimate PKL 2018 encounter at the Transstadia Arena in Ahmedabad. The second encounter between these teams this season saw another see-saw match that saw the Fortune Giants continue their dominance over the team from Mumbai, albeit in another very thrilling clash.
The match started with the home side introducing three raiders in their starting seven, an aggressive move to ensure they grab the initiative. However, after the first few minutes, it was the away side that started dominating the encounter, mostly on the back of the brilliant Siddharth Desai. The U Mumba raider was at his incisive best as he used a combination of bonus points and touch points to help his team build an early advantage, culminating in a raid that resulted in an all out and gave his team an 11-7 advantage at the seven-minute mark.
After both teams exchanged a couple of points, the away side took a 20-10 lead with six minutes left in the first half. That is when the team from Gujarat changed their strategy and switched all their focus onto defense, as they relied on their strength to claw the deficit back. They focused on making empty raids and fighting on defense, with their only intention being to score raid points on do-or-die raids. This helped them save time and they were able to reduce the deficit to 21-16 by half-time, thanks to a couple of super tackles from Parvesh Bhainswal.
The Fortune Giants relied on the same strategy to continue to peg back U Mumba, tackling their raiders superbly on do-or-die raids and ensuring they themselves score on do-or-die raids to bring the score down as well as save time. After they had reduced the deficit to just three points at 22-19 with four minutes gone in the second half, the away side countered this move by bringing in all-rounder Vinod Kumar to help both in defense as well as in attack. The change bore fruit immediately as Kumar scored a couple of raid points on the next two raids and also helped out by carrying out a super tackle, to help the away side stretch the lead to 27-20.
However, the home team were unfazed and kept their composure to begin their comeback again, this time with 12 minutes left in the game. They were able to tackle Desai successfully, making the score 27-21, thus removing the best raider of the opponent from the mat. The home team then got a great raid from Sachin Tawar, as he scored two points. Right after that, they dismissed the last man as well, scoring an all out, narrowing the score down to 28-26.
A spate of successful raids from both teams saw the score getting levelled at 31-apiece with five minutes left in the game. The team from Gujarat took advantage of the raucous home support here and grabbed the bull by the horns, using raids by Sachin and Mahendra Rajput to take a 32-34 lead. Right after that, they dismissed Abolfazl Maghsodlou to take a 32-37 lead that proved to be decisive.
Siddharth Desai narrowed the margin down to three points for U Mumba, with two quick raid points, but Prapanjan answered in kind for the Guajrat Fortune Giants, sealing the win with a key two-point raid that put the contest beyond the reach of the away side. The home crowd was vociferous in their support throughout, even jeering the Mumba players to intimidate them towards the end of the match and they definitely played a big part in the comeback made by their team.
Desai continued his run as the best raider in season six of the Pro Kabaddi League, scoring 13 points to take his overall tally for the season to 144 raid points. Gujarat Fortune Giants got great contributions from multiple players as Prapanjan scored a Super 10 while Sachin Tawar and Mahendra Rajput chipped in with seven and five points respectively.
However, the Gujarat comeback was built on the backs of their impregnable defense that kicked in towards the latter half of the first period, with Parvesh Bhainswal scoring six points, including two super tackles, while captain Sunil Kumar added three of his own. The two talented defenders form the best cover partnership in the league and are rightly among the best defenders in the league, with Parvesh third in the table with 45 tackle points while Sunil is sixth with 42.
The result sees Gujarat Fortune Giants cement their position in the Pro Kabaddi 2018 Points Table Zone A as they remain in second place with 53 points, four behind U Mumba but having played two games less. With one last game against Haryana Steelers to go in their home leg, they would be keen to make use of their passionate home support and secure the best performance in home legs so far in the tournament, having collected three wins, a tie and a loss in five matches so far.