Mumbai, July 21: Dare devil Rishank Devadiga and the cool-cucumber Shabeer Bapu Sharfuddin put up a scintillating display of top class Kabaddi to help U Mumba quell the challenge of a resurgent Puneri Paltan coached by master strategist Ashok Shinde. The Mumbai side won at 28-21 after leading 10-9 at the halfway stage. This gave them an all-win record on home turf in the first phase of the Second Season at the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi at the NSCI, in Mumbai, a first in the tournament. It gives them a head start over the others as the caravan now moves on to Kolkata, the city of joy for the next phase commencing tomorrow.
Both the teams started on a sedate note. The score line at 4-4 in the 8th minute speaks for that. But Pune were hurt not by their opponents but by the hamstring injury to their raider Yogesh Hudda who had played so well against the Titans yesterday. They did recover from the blow with Wazir the skipper leading admirably with the help of Manoj Kumar but the former also leaked four points by getting caught twice in a super tackle.
Coming to U Mumba, they were dismissed for the first time this year which resulted in Pune surging ahead at 18-17. They raised visions of an upset at that stage but Rishank who scored four bonus points in his tally of seven and Shabeer Bapu shored them up to 22-19, a small but significant step towards victory. U Mumba suffered on the defence front due to Vishal Mane and Surender Nada being off colour but Mohit Chillar and Anup on a couple of occasions filled the breach. Anup’s super tackle on Wazir when he brought him down by the neck, a la wrestling hold was a treat to watch Pune fought like tigers and it shows the amount of work Ashok Shinde has done and also infusing a sense of self-belief in a side which fared badly last season. The performance of Pravin Nivale and Mahipal and a couple of them has definitely raised Pune’s overall game. This will serve as a warning for others.
U MUMBA: A BALANCED SIDE
There is a lot of depth in the U Mumba side. You talk of their defence and the name Shabeer Bapu rings a bell. He is veryy fit and barring a slightly below par performance against the Titans he has been in the forefront. Next Anup Kumar their leader and premier raider is a threat no doubt but he is still to get into top gear. But the man who has already moved into that gear is Rishank Devadiga who has now proved his coach right by taking the responsibility of the do or die raids quite admirably. Three top raiders in their ranks means U Mumba have an abundance of riches in this department.