Pro Kabaddi 2016, Season 4: Mumbai Leg Recap - Patna and Jaipur seal semi-final berths
With the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League season 4 having entered its business end in the Mumbai leg, the season’s two most in-form teams – the Jaipur Pink Panthers and the Patna Pirates – did not waste any time in grabbing semi-final berths. The Bengal Warriors’ surprise defeat of the hosts U Mumba was one of the biggest talking points of this leg.
The resurgent Bengaluru Bulls heaped more misery on the home team with a 1-point win on the final day. Elsewhere, Season 4’s leading raider and Telugu Titans captain Rahul Chaudhari kept his team in the hunt by playing out a superb draw with the struggling Mumbai side at the NSCI SVP Stadium.
The leg began with a much-awaited Maharashtra derby where U Mumba took on Puneri Paltan. Mumbai surely did not have the best of memories from their previous clash where the home team wreaked havoc on the 2015 champions, thumping them 41-19. Pune once again had a slim lead in the second half but this time, the captain Anup Kumar took matters in his own hands to ensure they did not have to end up as the vanquished yet again. Riding on his 11-point haul, U Mumba emerged victorious 34-31.
On the second day, the bottom-placed Dabang Delhi, who have upset the Patna Pirates this season, could not beat the Jaipur Pink Panthers but surely ran them close. Delhi captain Meraj Sheykh put up a fantastic all-round effort and notched up 11 points but it was not enough to stop Jasvir Singh and his men from winning it 24-22.
The excitement reached its climax in the second match of Day 2. Rahul Chaudhari of the Telugu Titans curbed the confidence of the hosts U Mumba and the match ended in an enthralling 25-25 draw. Bhaskaran Edachery’s wards conceded their massive 9-point lead to even find themselves trailing the Titans by three points at one stage in this match. It was only a touch of magic from Mumbai veteran Rakesh Kumar that brought the hosts back into contention before the tie finished in a draw.
On Day 3, it was Jaipur Pink Panthers man Ajay Kumar’s spectacular do-or-die raids that cancelled out Patna Pirates’ Pardeep Narwal’s 7 points to give the former champions a 29-22 win. The result was no different from their last meeting in the Patna leg when the relentless Panthers had subjected the Pirates to a 26-21 defeat. But what was more important for Abhishek Bachchan’s boys was that they clinched the coveted last-four place with this win.
First home loss for U Mumba
Prior to the Mumbai leg, the Bengal Warriors had lost eight times this season yet they were unfazed when they took on the heavy favourites – U Mumba in the last match of Day 3. What unfolded was not written in the script! The Warriors put up a stupendous team effort to inflict on the Orange Brigade a 31-27 defeat,which was also their first home loss during the league stage in PKL history. That Bengal was playing without any pressure got thoroughly reflected in their performance. Jang Kun Lee and Monu Goyat attacked in tandem to lead the underdogs to an improbable win.
The first match of the final day witnessed the defending champions Patna Pirates sealing their semi-final berth after a 31-28 victory over Puneri Paltan. With 47 points from 12 games, the men in green-and-yellow also leapfrogged the 2014 winners Jaipur Pink Panthers to grab the first place. Patna’s 19-year-old raider Pardeep Narwal was at his aggressive best yet again and notched his fourth Super 10 of Season 4 with 12 points. Despite never having beaten Patna, Pune looked dangerously close to ending that barren run when they staged an impressive comeback in the second half only to lose it narrowly.
A stunned Mumbai crowd watched as the U Mumba captain Anup Kumar gave his all to pull his team back from the brink only to see them go down 27-28 to the Bengaluru Bulls in the final match. With 7 points earned on Saturday, the 32-year-old also became just the second player in PKL history to breach the 400-point mark.
The Bulls captain and last season’s MVP Rohit Kumar led the onslaught but Bengaluru’s colossal 20-11 lead quickly vanished as the hosts equalised the score27-27. All the hard work came to nothing when Rakesh Kumar was tackled that saw them slipping to their second consecutive defeat with their semi-final chances now hanging in the balance.
The Mumbai leg thus ends with former champions Patna Pirates and Jaipur Pink Panthers both advancing further in the league. It is Patna who reigns atop the standings with 47 points and leads the Panthers with a game in hand. The Telugu Titans are placed third with 40 points while U Mumba are three points behind.
Puneri Paltan find themselves in the fifth spot while the Bengaluru Bulls have jumped to the sixth position after toppling the Season 3 finalists.Bengal Warriors are next placed in the league table while the hosts of the next leg, Dabang Delhi continue to languish at the bottom with a paltry 21 points.