PKL 2019, Eliminator 2: U Mumba vs Haryana Steelers: U Mumba destroy Steelers to enter semi-finals
U Mumba defeated the Haryana Steelers to become the fourth and the last team to qualify for the semi-finals of Pro Kabaddi 2019. The match was played at EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Monday.
Both Abhishek Singh and Arjun Deshwal put up brilliant performances and picked up 16 and 15 raid points respectively for U Mumba. From the Steelers, Vikash Kandola, Prashanth Kumar Rai and Vinay did a fine job but still faced a heart-wrenching loss due to their sloppy defense.
U Mumba: Fazel Atrachali, Abhishek Singh, Arjun Deshwal, Athul MS, Young Chang Ko, Surinder Singh, Sandeep Narwal
Haryana Steelers: Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Prashanth Kumar Rai, Vikash Kandola, Vinay, Ravi Kumar, Vikas Kale, Sunil
Vikash Kandola inaugurated the second match of the playoffs with a bonus point, which was soon followed by a raid by Arjun Deshwal, who picked up a bonus and opened the account for the Mumbai-based franchise.
Five minutes into the highly-anticipated game, the two teams were on a 5-5 tie. With both teams scoring without a break, the clash looked incredibly close-called. However, Kandola performed quite a few multiple-point raids, which overshadowed the below-par performance of the Steelers' defense.
Abhishek Singh, on the other hand, kept on bringing unstoppable points for his side. Arjun Deshwal was on fire, with a 100 percent strike rate. Right before the end of the first twenty minutes, the Steelers suffered an unfortunate all-out.
The conclusion of the first half saw U Mumba in a massive 22-15 lead. The Steelers needed some serious help from the defense if they wanted to redeem themselves.
Deshwal kickstarted the night with a bonus point and also completed his Super 10 wonderfully, which was then followed by a commendable raid by lanky Prashanth Kumar Rai.
Kandola then completed his Super 10 in style. Simultaneously, Abhishek Singh reached the ten-point mark, courtesy a mind-blowing Super Raid.
U Mumba had a safe lead of 11 points in their hands with just ten minutes left, which they gradually kept on increasing. As the match made its way towards the end, the Steelers were lagging behind by a huge margin. Kandola, Rai, and Vinay were the only scorers from the squad, who fought tirelessly for the hapless Steelers. Vikas, who was sitting off the mat, had tears in his eyes due to his team's poor performance.
Eventually, U Mumba defeated the Haryana Steelers 46-38 and became the second team to qualify for the semi-finals on the night.
Rakesh Kumar, during the post-match press conference, looked clearly furious with the defense of his team. He blamed the defenders for the heart-breaking loss.
"Our raiders did a good job of picking points but the defense completely gave away the match to U Mumba. They made mistakes since the very first second and hence, we lost. However, it was a good season for me. My team could've reached the final if they didn't make all those mistakes. All our hard work went futile," the Steelers coach said.
When asked about the strategy Cheralathan had in the second half, disappointment was visible in his eyes.
"Our only strategy was to do a better job. Undoubtedly, the defense was extremely poor tonight. We could have won the match if it weren't for the defense."
Fazel Atrachali was reminded of how, during the auctions, U Mumba were taken lightly. When quizzed about the way his team played, Atrachali looked euphoric.
"Nobody believed in U Mumba because they only looked for a star player. Just as I said earlier, we make stars. Abhishek, Arjun, Athul, Ajinkya, despite not being marked as stars, did a wonderful job. In my view, teamwork for a squad is the key to winning. I am proud of my team and the players."
U Mumba, who'll now play against Bengal Warriors in the upcoming match, are all prepared for the semi-finals, according to the coach Sanjeev Baliyan.
"Bengal are a good team and will give a tough competition to my boys. Our players are also playing really well and we have the potential to win the match against the Warriors. I am sure that the match is going to be a great one," the U Mumba coach signed off.Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:45 IST