Puneri Paltan were beaten 34-39 by a second string U Mumba team in the Maharashtra derby. Fazel Atrachali and Pawan Kumar scored 7 points for the visitors while Pradeep Kumar top scored with 10.
U Mumba put out an experimental line-up with Bhupender Singh the most experienced player in the squad as Iranian Fazel Atrachali got his first start of the tournament for U Mumba. Puneri Paltan were forced to field a depleted team due to injuries to Wazir Singh and Pravin Niwale.
Bhupender and Amit Rathi were tackled in the opening raids while captain for the day Pradeep Kumar won a point for U Mumba in the subsequent raid as the visitors led 2-1 in the 2nd minute. The home team levelled the score at 3 each when they caught the Mumbai captain and Jitesh Joshi won a point for the Paltans in his raid.
In this tight encounter, both the teams exchanged points till the 10th minute, at which point the scoreline read Pune 5-5 Mumbai. However, Pradeep conjured up a super raid for the league toppers to help them take a 3-point lead (8-5). With Pune down to just 3 defenders, Bhupender Singh went in to raid, but the agile raider was tackled as the home team reduced their deficit to just 1 point.
By the 15th minute, both the teams were level once more at 10 each. K Prapanjan scored 2 points for the visitors, but Sanjay Kumar got Pune back on level terms in the 16th minute. Both the teams scored a point each in the final 4 minutes as the half drew to a close with the score tied at 13-13.
The match comes alive in the second half
The Paltans reduced U Mumba to just 3 defenders in the 23rd minute, but Sanjay Kumar was tackled by the alert Mumbai defenders. Tushar Patil brought another all out opportunity in Pune’s way, but Irani captain Fazel had other ideas. Being the last man for the table toppers, Fazel won a point in his raid and single-handedly produced a super tackle, bringing U Mumba back to life.
Pawan Kumar gathered 3 points in his raid in the 29th minute to get U Mumba back in the lead at 21-19 and this started a brilliant phase for Mumbai over their derby rivals. Pradeep completed an all out for the visitors with 10 minutes to go in the match as the match slipped away from the home team.
By the 35th minute, Pune were down to just 2 men and trailing 22-32 against Mumbai when Pradeep Kumar went in to raid. He got the home team on the verge of an all out, which was completed in the subsequent raid when Kalimuthu Balamahendran was prevented from returning to his half as the Mumbaikars led 36-22.
Masayuki Shimokawa was brought on as a substitute by U Mumba while Simon Kibura made his appearance for Puneri Paltan with 3 minutes to go in the match. Trailing 24-39, the home team gave the crowd something to cheer about as they scored 10 straight points to end the match at 34-39. They also inflicted an all out on the visiting team in the final raid of the match.
Man of the match: Fazel AtrachaliPublished 17 Aug 2015, 21:00 IST