UP Yoddha and Telugu Titans played out a thrilling 20-20 tie, the first of the season, in the penultimate game of the Mumbai leg of the Pro Kabaddi League at the NSCI indoor stadium on Friday.
This clash went right down to the final minute with unexpected twists and turns, but both sides remained evenly matched throughout.
Titans' star Siddharth Desai, who has been having a lukewarm season so far, launched into the final raid for his side. The raider shuffled across the mat to force the defence to shift positions. Sumit, on the left corner, lost his balance and fell behind, beyond the line.
Pro Kabaddi League day 12, as it happened
Desai took his time to return, waiting for time to run out. With the score line reading 20-19, the Telugu Titans leaped in joy, anticipating victory. Captain Abozar Mighani rushed in to join the others, but the joy was short-lived. UP Yoddha was given a technical point as the Titans had run into the field of play before the final whistle was blown. The decision was reviewed but the Titans walked away, unsuccessful. It was the Yoddha's turn to celebrate this lucky escape to a tie.
Earlier in the game, the Titans suffered a double blow when rival skipper and ace defender Nitesh Kumar starred with a super tackle on Siddharth with five minutes left on the clock. This was followed by a successful raid by Shrikant Jadhav for the Yoddhas as the match raced a nail-biting climax, the scores crawling along at 18-all and 19-all. A mistake under pressure or a solitary moment of brilliance would have turned the tie around but no one anticipated the surprise turn at the end.
Old loyalties remained fresh for fans in Mumbai. Rishank Devadiga and Siddharth are familiar faces from their days at U Mumba for kabaddi fans at the NSCI. The former had turned around many games in crunch situations, the latter bulldozed defenders last season. These two are in rival camps this season but drew cheers when they ventured out on a raid for Yoddha and Titans respectively.
The Yoddha defence took time to execute their plans for Siddharth, trapping the big man in the fourth and fifth raids. Ashu Singh and Sumit were involved, getting their target on the left corner and in the middle respectively. Siddharth tried to break free once, only to be lifted off the mat by the rivals.
Defenders took centre stage in the second half, with scores level at 11-11. C.Arun pulled off two tackles for the Titans. Sumit then got a grip on Siddharth and Nitesh Kumar single-handedly caught Rajnish as the tussle for the upper hand intensified.
Both teams went away with a point each from the stalemate.
READ : Mumbai's Pro-Kabaddi players are the new stars on TV
- U Mumba end home leg on a high -
It was a perfect end to the home leg for U Mumba as it registered a comfortable 32-20 win over Gujarat Fortunegiants. This was the latter's first defeat in its fourth game after a sub-par show proved to be no match for the home team.
Surinder Singh starred for U Mumba with nine points from the game. He also pulled off a magnificent super raid, sending Parvesh Bhainswal, Sunil Kumar, Ruturaj Koravi and Sumit to the bench. This was after Young Chang Ko managed a brilliant super tackle, ably supported by skipper Fazel Atrachali, to bring down Harmanjit Singh.
U Mumba started strong against the unbeaten Fortunegiants and managed to maintain a slender two-point lead at the end of the first half. This too, like the first game, was a battle of defences with 16 points coming from the defenders and just five coming from raids.
After a frustrating loss to UP Yoddha earlier this week, captain Fazel Attrachali was a happy man with his defence coming good to take the side through.
Having played more games in this leg, U Mumba finds itself on top of the table. Gujarat's tag of invincibility has been stripped away, leaving Jaipur Pink Panthers as the only unbeaten side left in this edition of the PKL.
The tournament will now move to Patna, with home team Patna Pirates taking on the Panthers and Bengal Warriors taking on the Bengaluru Bulls at the Patliputra Sports Complex on Saturday.