Pro Kabaddi: Bengaluru Bulls looking to gatecrash U Mumba's party in the final
The final day of the second season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi is upon us. Exactly one year ago, the world witnessed Abhishek Bachchan-owned Jaipur Pink Panthers lift the trophy in the league’s inaugural edition. However, the Pink Panthers failed to make the playoffs this time and last year’s finalists, U Mumba and Bengaluru Bulls will fight it out for the coveted title.
U Mumba have been in stellar form this season, losing just 2 matches, to Jaipur Pink Panthers and the other to fellow semi-finalists Telugu Titans. The Anup Kumar-led team were dominant in the league having won their first 8 matches to set a new record in Pro Kabaddi. Last season’s MVP, Anup Kumar, has been in good form this season as well, scoring 68 raid points to help his team steamroll through every opponent in the group stage.
The losing finalists from last season finished the group stage on top spot having won all 4 matches at home which added to their sensational home record; In 2 seasons, they have lost just once at home – the final against Jaipur in season 1. Having finished top of the pile after the group stage, U Mumba took on Patna Pirates in the semi-finals and romped to an easy 35-18 win. Backed by a frantic home support, the team owned by Unilazer will be looking to better their performance from last season when they face Bengaluru Bulls at the NSCI Stadium at 9 pm.
Bengaluru Bulls won their first ever knockout match against a youthful Telugu Titans side by 39-38. Having dominated throughout the match, the Manjeet Chhillar-led team shook off a late surge by the Titans to make it to their maiden final. In the first season, the Bulls lost their semi-final and 3rd-place playoff to end a promising campaign on a sad note. This time around, however, it Bulls are looking to make amends.
They finished 3rd in the league, just behind the Titans after winning 9 of their 14 league matches. As the season progressed, the league’s oldest player, 40-year-old Dharmaraj Cheralathan grew stronger and provided a healthy platform for stars like Ajay Thakur and Manjeet to strut their stuff. The Bulls will look to spoil the bookmakers’ prediction and U Mumba’s party by pulling off a “surprise” win in Mumbai.
Telugu Titans vs Patna Pirates
The match at 8pm between the losing semi-finalists, Patna Pirates and Telugu Titans for the 3rd place will warm things up for the final. The Pirates had an extremely inconsistent campaign and were relying on other results going in their favour to qualify for the semi-finals. Fortunately for them, their challengers for 4th spot, Jaipur Pink Panthers, were beaten by lowly Bengal Warriors, which meant the game between the Pink Panthers and Pirates became a virtual semi-final. The Pirates pulled off a miraculous escape by beating the defending champions 26-24 in Pune on the final day of the league stage.
However, they could not overcome the seemingly indomitable U Mumba in the semi-final as they were relegated to the third-place playoff once again. The Sandeep Narwal-led side will be looking to repeat last season’s performance – by finishing 3rd – despite the absence of former India captain Rakesh Kumar. Their challengers for 3rd place, Telugu Titans will look to rain on Patna’s parade.
The Titans rode their way to everyone’s hearts with some entertaining kabaddi through the likes of young Rahul Chaudhari, Sandeep Kandola and Iranian Meraj Sheykh. Sukesh Kumar and Deepak Nivas Hudda have also chipped in with important points as the Titans finished just behind U Mumba in the league stage and in the process, became 1 of only 2 teams to beat the Mumbaikars this season.
With just 4 losses – 3 in the league and 1 in the semis – this season, the Titans have pulled off results as well apart from entertaining the crowd. The energetic team from Hyderabad, known for their audacious raids, will need to be careful in defence too as 22-year-old Sandeep Narwal poses a big threat to their chances of making the most of their first knock-out appearance in Pro Kabaddi, having finished 5th in the opening season.
All in all, the final day of Pro Kabaddi promises to be a spectacle with four of the best teams in the league taking the mat on the final day of the 37-day tournament.