Siddharth Desai ushered in the new raiding order in Pro Kabaddi 2018, contributing a jaw-dropping 17 points in U Mumba’s commanding 41-20 win over Telugu Titans in an Inter-Zone Challenge tie at the Balewadi stadium.
In the process, Rahul Chaudhari’s personal high of 700 raid points in the competition was reduced to a statistic. The latter top-scored for his team (7 points), another piece of trivia on a day fans cheered for his rival.
A one-time match-winner in the competition and crowd-puller finished on the losing side and a new face emerged under the spotlights. The U Mumba youngster, for whom pre-match expectations goaded him towards performance and popularity, could do no wrong. Teammates in the defence did their part to reduce Titans into a slide to defeat, including three all-outs.
Titans slipped from a 6-3 lead in the first half into deep trouble, in the process suffering the first of three wipeouts. Neither the offensive nor the defensive players were able to upstage the opponents.
Desai, in supreme confidence each time he went on a raid, collected an astonishing nine points before the breather and eight in the second half. Titans trapped him only once in 19 forays into rival territory.
Action on the mat soared to a new level after resumption. Desai outmuscled three defenders for a Super Tackle and a charged up Farhad in the Titans camp responded with a Super Tackle, forcing a raider into submission with a flying two-handed embrace.
U Mumba inflicted the second all-out on Titans and notched up its fourth win in six ties from Zone A. Titans suffered the second reverse in five games from Zone B.
U Mumba 40 (Siddharth Desai 17) bt Telugu Titans 20 (Rahul Chaudhari 7).
Tamil Thalaivas 36 (Ajay Thakur 12) bt Puneri Paltan 31 (Nitin Tomar 8).
Points: UM (5), TT (0). Thalaivas (5), PP (0).