U Mumba continued their winning run vs Puneri Paltan while Telugu Titans edged out Jaipur Pink Panthers in an enthralling match in Pune. The home team were handed their first defeat at the hands of their fierce rivals while former champions, Jaipur were stunned by the team from Vizag in the opening match of the day.
Meraj Sheykh scored a mammoth 11 points to ensure Telugu Titans ended the Pune leg with a 27-25 win over Jaipur Pink Panthers. Kuldeep Singh was at his best in the Jaipur defence, but Meraj was having none of it as he didn’t let the Titans feel the absence of Rahul Chaudhari and Sukesh Hegde.
The Iranian Meraj got the ball rolling with a successful raid in the very first minute, but both the teams exchanged blows till Virender Wazir Singh won a couple of points from his raid in the 7th minute to establish a gap between the two teams as the Titans led 5-3. Sonu Narwal returned successfully from both his raids to restor parity in the match as they went toe-to-toe with the team in yellow.
With the two teams level at 8 points each in the 16th minute, Telugu Titans pulled apart and took a 3-point lead at the halfway mark. Meraj took over the reins and led from the front to ensure the team didn’t miss Rahul Chaudhari and Sukesh Hegde as they led 12-9 at half time.
With the Pink Panthers on the verge of an all out, Meraj went in to inflict further misery on them in the second half. However, he was unsuccessful and the former champions levelled the score through a super tackle in the 23rd minute. Continuing their run, the team from Jaipur made it 6 points in a row to lead 15-13 in Pune.
Dharmaraj Cheralathan was, once again, caught in a super tackle as Kasinathan Bhaskaran’s side led 19-16 with 10 minutes to go in the match. Sonu made it a 6-point game with as many minutes to go with a successful raid as it looked like the Titans were heading for yet another loss.
Prashant Rai started the comeback with 2 points in his raid and his teammate Meraj replicated his efforts in the penultimate minute to level the score. With the Pink Panthers leading by a solitary point ahead of the buzzer raid, Prashant Kumar Rai conjured up, what can be termed as, the raid of his life! A super raid in the final seconds of the match earned Telugu Titans a 2-point win as they ended the Pune leg with a morale-boosting win.
FT: Jaipur Pink Panthers 25-27 Telugu Titans
Before the audience could muster their breath, the home side took to the mat to take on U Mumba in the first ever Maharashtra derby of the Season. Surendra Singh’s 8 raid points and Jasmer Singh Gulia’s 5 defence points went in vain as U Mumba got their 5th win over Puneri Paltan in as many attempts through 7 points from Rishank Devadiga and Fazel Atrachali’s and Rakesh Kumar’s 5 points each.
Having never lost to Pune in Pro Kabaddi history, U Mumba started the match with confidence and took a 3-point lead through Rishank Devadiga and Pawan Kumar. Denying Manjeet Chhillar and Ajay Thakur in the opening stages, the defending champions showed that despite losing their star players to the Indian team for the South Asian Games, they were not going to fold without a fight.
The home side, however, levelled the score in the 7th minute, led by a rock solid defence. Not to be done by their rivals, U Mumba showed their pedigree in defence by denying the Paltan thrice and restoring their 3-point advantage in the 10th minute.
Surendra Singh conjured up the raid of the match when he returned to the Pune half with FOUR points after his raid in the 15th minute to give his side a 10-9 lead. Ajay Thakur completed the all out on the visitors as they took a 5-point lead with half-time in sight. Pawan and Rishank made sure they did not go into the half trailing by a big margin as they helped U Mumba score 4 quick, unanswered points to end the half trailing 14-15.
The Paltan started the half with a super tackle on Rishank as the crowd at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Shivaji Stadium erupted in joy. By the 25th minute, U Mumba were reduced to just 2 men on the mat, but Fazel Atrachali and Rakesh Kumar got Ajay Thakur in a super tackle two minutes later to switch the momentum.
Rishank continued his lethal form to win 4 points from 2 raids and Rakesh tackled Manjeet to complete the all out on the home team and put U Mumba in the lead (24-22) in the 31st minute. Surendra Singh levelled the score 6 minutes from time, but Shabeer Bappu made it a 3-point game soon after. Rishank’s unsuccessful raid in the 37th minute revived the dangerous Manjeet Chhillar as the game went into the final stages with the home side trailing by a solitary point.
With the scores level in the final minute, Bhupender Singh earned a bonus point and Fazel knocked the wind out of the Paltan with a tackle on their captain Manjeet. The match ended soon after as U Mumba maintained their unbeaten streak against their arch rivals and handed them their first home loss this season.
FT: Puneri Paltan 27-29 U MumbaPublished 13 Feb 2016, 22:20 IST