PKL: Haryana Steelers' defence proves too good for U-Mumba

U Mumba fought tooth and nail to beat the Steelers' defenders but its own defence was weak on the night it went down 30-41 to the latter.

Haryana Steelers, led by defender Surender Nada, banked on its watertight defence to make life difficult for the U Mumba raiders.   -  PTI

What happens when two teams, with everything to play for, lock horns on the Kabaddi mat?

They throw the kitchen sink at each other. That was the case here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor stadium, where Haryana Steelers and U  Mumba - No. 2 and No. 4 on the points table - fought intensely for 40 minutes, only for the former to flex its defensive muscle and win 41-30 on Wednesday.

At half-time, both teams had not spared an inch - the raiders on either side surged with intent and the defenders cornered them like lumbering dinosaurs, finicky lest their mincemeat slipped out of grasp.

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Haryana bagged 14 raid points to Mumbai's 12 but edged forward with two All-Outs, and was 22-16 at 20 minutes. 

Its raiders used an assortment of reverse kicks and hand touches to keep the lead intact for rest of the match.  Deepak Kumar Dahiya scored eight points from 14 raids and found an able second fiddle in Vikas Kandola (eight points), who later hurt his ankle with 10 minutes to play and was substituted by Prashanth Kumar Rai. 

Down to five men at this stage, Haryana, led by defender Surender Nada, banked on its watertight defence to make life difficult for the Mumba raiders. The skipper led by example, emerging as the side's top defender, having pocketed five points from eight tackles.

The side based out of Mumbai - a city abuzz with pace and spirit - reflected that ethos on the field too, as it fought tooth and nail; evident from its tackle prowess which earned it 23 points to Haryana's 24 - captain Anup Kumar scoring 10 points from 17 raids. But it was left to rue a comparatively weaker defence on the night, with Hadi Oshtorak getting a maximum of two tackle points from four tackles. 

A brace of All-Outs in the second-half, coupled with Haryana's 11 tackle points to U Mumba's paltry three summed up the final scorecard.

Yet another defeat for Thalaivas

For Tamil Thalaivas, earning a win this season has been as challenging as spotting a needle in a haystack. Buoyed by a loud crowd, which cheered its every raid and tackle, Thalaivas once again flattered to deceive, floundering to a narrow 33-37 defeat against U.P. Yoddha in a Group B encounter here on Wednesday.

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In Thalaivas' defence though, it didn't fall prey to its now so familiar meltdown. It had a narrow five-point deficit (15-20) at the half-way stage. It scored 11 raid points to Yoddha's 14 and even pipped the latter in the total tackle points (4-3). However, the Nitin Tomar-led Yoddha stayed abreast with the lead and Thalaivas, despite a fine show from skipper Ajay Thakur, failed to find lady fortune by its side.

On the stroke of full-time, the now-nearly-full stands were greeted by another Thalaivas defeat. Yet, it could take heart from the fact that in the end, it all boiled down to Yoddha's two All-Out points — as it led in the overall tackle points and drew level in the total raid points tally — this was as close it could get for the Thalaivas.