More misery for Tamil Thalaivas; U Mumba scripts comeback win

It was a third successive loss for Tamil Thalaivas in front of its own fans as U Mumba pulls a fast one on Jaipur Pink Panthers.

Bengaluru Bulls raider Pawan Sehrawat (red jersey) recorded 20 points in just 25 minutes of play.   -  R. Senthil Kumar

Tamil Thalaivas lost a third successive match at home, as Bengaluru Bulls defeated it 48-37 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday. Bengaluru raider Pawan Sehrawat ran riot in the Thalaivas half of the court, scoring 20 points despite going off injured in the 25th minute.

As it happened

It was a familiar first half for Thalaivas as the defense lacked co-ordination and made mistakes yet again. Pawan, who impressed in the nationals, benefitted from his opponents flaws. He scored five points in a single raid and three in another, picking up quick points and inflicting major damage on the Thalaivas’ confidence. The home team trailed 28-12 at half-time.

Still a resurgence was in sight when Ajay Thakur and Athul MS bagged important raid points, achieving a respectable gap in scores. Thakur was able to reach double figures again, but his side eventually fell to a team that was more disciplined on the day.

Thalaivas coach E. Bhaskaran's response was all too familiar. “It was a problem with the defense again. And you saw for yourself, when you lose five points at once like that, the team spirit goes down. We can pull it back in the second half but we couldn't finish well today,” he said.

Against Jaipur Pink Panthers, which was dominant for 35 minutes of the game, U Mumba came charging in the final five minutes to clinch a 39-32 win in a Zone A match.

The tall and powerful Siddharth Desai, who scored 17 points, was U Mumba’s star once again as he establishes himself as his team’s frontline raider.

Jaipur had what its coach Srinivas Reddy described as a “perfect start”. “Our plan and execution in both attack and defense was perfect in the beginning. We had the upper hand for most of the match,” the coach said.

That plan fell apart in a matter of seconds in the second half. U Mumba had slowly started its climb in the final 20 minutes, leveling the scores at 25-25 midway. After a crucial all-out, U Mumba pulled off a super tackle on Pink Panther’s best raider on the day - Nitin Rawal - in the 16th minute to go ahead 31-30.

From there, U Mumba broke away in style. Jaipur could find no answer to Siddharth and Rohit Baliyan’s clean raiding. Rawal and Anup Kumar were rendered harmless by a charged U Mumba defense.

Kumar, making his debut for the Pink Panthers against his former team, said: “Our raiding department was a little slow towards the end.”