Welcome to Sportstar's coverage of the Pro Kabaddi League. This is Lavanya Lakshminarayanan and I will be taking you through today's PKL 8 match between Gujarat Giants and U Mumba.
Full time: U Mumba is held to its fifth draw of the season by Gujarat Giants. This after a spirited comeback which saw the Ajith Kumar and the U Mumba defence put in some solid efforts in raid and defence to draw level with the Giants who were comfortably ahead for most parts of this game.
U Mumba is trying. That's evident. They are seeing patterns in their draws and losses and trying to figure out solutions. Ajinkya Kapre was a step in that direction. With him, this unit becomes three-pronged but it's not at the Patna or Thalaivas level of function yet. We don't know if it will even get there, but U Mumba will hope so. Mohsen is another option and has been nifty with the bonus points, but his mat awareness is not where it needs to be and a few hasty decisions in the middle undo some of the positives he brings to the table. But the focus, and rightly so, will be on Fazel. He is an intelligent kabaddi mind! His reading of the game is matched by few but he will need to start contributing in the defence more tangibly and bring his signature aggression to that backline. Rinku has shown promise and needs support from someone like the Iranian.
Ajith with eight points and Rinku with a high-five were the standout performers for Fazel's side.
Gujarat actually had a good game but a few defensive blips, not entirely their fault here, did them in. They did well to restrict U Mumba to a draw after keeping them down for most parts of the game. Their defence has shown promising signs but the big positive is raiders stepping up and taking the onus of banking those points on themselves. Ajay Kumar was impressive tonight completing 200 raid points in his PKL career. He is not flamboyant but enjoyed himself on the mat today and ended up frustrating U Mumba.
I don't think Gujarat misses Ravinder Pahal given the season he was having and Girish Ernak is a solid corner defender but what's increasingly working for Gujarat is Sunil and Parvesh getting more involved in play. However, given we're already well past the half way mark of the league, the Giants have to figure out answers to some of their pressing attack and defence questions and fast!
24-24 Gujarat seems to be okay with giving U Mumba the draw as the Gujarat defenders stay away from Abhishek and time has run out and U Mumba has yet another tie! Fazel's face says it all. He is not amused but has a cheeky smile dawning on his face. Oh this team and its luck this season! Manpreet, at the other end, is consoling his players. My word, this has been a tight game.
24-24 Rahul Sethpal's haste costs U Mumba as he tries to dash Ajay off the mat but gets it all wrong. HOLD ON. Fazel is reviewing this call. He is saying, the raider is out of bounds. The review shows this is no fluke review. Ajay seems to be in the air! HOW WELL DOES FAZEL READ AND WATCH THIS GAME! MY WORD, will the TV officials agree? We'll have to wait and watch. The bonus doesn't seem to stand and Ajay's foot has moved into the lobby before the touch.
Now for the verdict - REVIEW UNSUCCESSFUL. No bonus for Gujarat and scores are tied.
Manpreet asks his raider to go target Fazel. WOW. Aggression
24-23 Abhishek gets a touch on Sunil who tries to dash him off but Abhishek is too quick for him and gets to the midline. Sunil reviews and says no touch! Reviews are really dicey. REVIEW UNSUCCESSFUL! U MUMBA TAKES THE LEAD.
23-23 HARENDER PROVES MANPREET WRONG. Goes for Rakesh's ankle and Rinku and the others come to dash him off. Rinku thumps the mat with his palm. THAT'S what this means!
Manpreet Singh tells Rakesh - No one will come after you, take it from my in writing. Just walk, take your time and wait for 20 seconds and get your touch.
Both teams are playing on the do-or-die raid now.
22-23 Ajith is brought down by Hadi Oshtorak, getting a hold on his legs while the others come crashing down on the imperious raiders.
22-22 Ajay Kumar takes out Mohsen, absolute opposite of what the coach said and Ajay is grooving mid-mat.
Rajguru Subramanian to Fazel - if the raider comes for the bonus, stay away! Don't give away points.
22-21 RINKU in hot form! Rakesh Narwal tries to get a kick on Rinku but he has other plans as he brings the raider down.
21-21 Ajith is fine to raid. He just does not give up. Parvesh gets a hold on his ankle but he escapes that, takes a touch on Girish Ernak and runs off to the midline with two points. What a player, Ajith is!
19-21 Rakesh Narwal takes out Fazel Atrachali. Fazel goes for the dash but momentum is in Rakesh's favour. He gets his timing a little wrong here.
19-20 OH NO. Ajith is injured again. The Gujarat defender on the right falls for the bait and gets a hold on Ajith but he pulls away to the midline but his face is drenched in pain. Everyone, including Gujarat coach Manpreet, look concerned.
18-20 Ajith is the player revived and he's come in, taken the bonus and gone out
17-20 SUPER TACKLE. Rinku initiates the super tackle and Fazel comes around to help his defender block Rakesh S. Brave from Rinku and this is what U Mumba needs.
15-20 Mohsen has clear-cut instructions in Farsi by Fazel Atrachali and it works! But it's a point to both sides as Mohsen has the bonus but enters the lobby without a touch.
14-19 Rahul Sethpal is sent to the bench after a brave ankle hold goes on vain. He gets no support. Should he have?
14-18 Ajinkua Kapre is blocked at the waist and then carried, almost lifted, off the mat by Sunil
14-17 U Mumba responds in kind as Harendra Kumar dives and gets a hold on Rakesh's ankle and pulls him back as he gets support from Rahul Sethpal
12-17 Girish Ernak got cementlike hold on Abhishek Singh's ankle and pulls him back
12-16 Parvesh Bhainswal gets involved now. Fear? Of course not. He dashes Ajith Kumar out of the mat. So easy, he makes it look, Parvesh
12-15 Rakesh Narwal walks away with a bonus and Rinku who hangs along with him as he stretches to the midline
12-13 Ajith is brave and goes deep in the right corner to go get a touch on Sunil and come back. Parvesh does nothing here, that's how wary they are
11-13 Rakesh Narwal pressures Fazel Atrachali in the left corner, not once but twice and Rakesh thinks he's gotten a touch on Fazel. The Sultan is ABSOLUTELY SURE that he has not gotten a touch on him and confidently reviews it. I am worried, is this another premature review? The review does not seem to have any conclusive visual that could help Fazel's case and this tends to go in favour of the raider. OH HOLD ON. We have a third TV angle where we see no touch! How is this going to go?
REVIEW SUCCESSFUL! SULTAN VINDICATED. NO TOUCH and the Sultan's word is law.
11-13 Ajay Kumar is brought down for the first time tonight and it's the Rinku- Fazel combo that makes this happen. Rinku gets a hold of Ajay's legs while the Sultan comes in to ensure there's no damage from the front end.
HT SUMMARY: U Mumba has looked out of sorts today with the raiders playing it safer than usual, for reasons we don't seem to understand. The defence is also erring on the side of caution and not going for those tackles, Fazel especially. This begs the question - while Fazel sees values in playing it safe and sticking on to marshall his forces, doesn't U Mumba need the imperious defender more?
10-13 Has the U Mumba raider - Ajinkya Kapre - gotten a touch here? Nope. But he has got a bonus from under Girish Ernak's nose
9-13 Abhishek gears up to run to the left. Sunil and Rakesh handle upper and lower body each and keep this U Mumba frontman down.
9-12 Rinku takes down the Gujarat raider while Fazel comes in with a dash to help his defender. Nicely done
8-12 Ajay Kumar gets a hold of Ajith's legs while Sunil bulldozes him from the right
8-11 Rahul Sethpal was too eager but wanted to stay back and the mix ends up with him getting Rakesh Narwal's shoe on his extended finger tips
8-10 Abhishek Singh has done this time and time again and his multiraid talents come good now. He gets out of Amit's grip, pushes away Girish Ernak and gets to the midline. TWO POINTS. Abhishek needs to lead this raiding effort, it's been far too cautious so far tonight.
6-10 Patience helps and Rinku has just learnt why. Rinku doesn't go for an unnecessary tackles, doesn't break the chain and Rakesh S's momentum takes him straight to the lobby. Good presence of mind!
5-10 Girish Ernak takes out Ajith Kumar who joins his captain on the bench.
5-9 U Mumba is lacking life in the defence and that's partly because Fazel Atrachali is not involving himself with application. Case in point here. Rakesh S puts his feet in too deep and Fazel falls for the bait and ends up needing to walk off to the bench. He is not happy with himself.
5-8 Ajith runs across both sides of the mat and calmly gets a running hand touch on Girish Ernak.
4-8 Ajith Kumar takes a bonus for U Mumba
3-8 Rakesh Narwal takes out a player on the left, it's Ashish Sangwan. He's picked up a bonus too, so that's two to Gujarat
3-6 Oh what a passage of play. Abhishek Singh steered clear of Parvesh Bhainswal but sticks on too deep too long and Parvesh goes for his ankles and takes him down
3-5 Rakesh Narwal is taken down by the U Mumba defence and lo and behold, it's Ajinkya Kapre with the initiation. Brilliant. He just wants to get involved and make his time on the mat count!
2-5 Ajinkya Kapre takes out Girish Ernak to get his first point of the night. A high kick and he's pleased.
1-5 Rakesh Narwal takes out Rinku and that's left Fazel with a crinkle on his brow
1-4 Ajith Kumar is taken care of by Girish Ernak who leaves the chain and comes in to block him while a sea of red and white falls over Ajith. This has Manpreet on his feet on the bench.
1-3 Ajay Kumar takes a bonus point from right under Abhishek Singh.
1-2 Ajith Kumar comes in on a do-or-die raid and he does well as expected with a massive touch on Rakesh S. His do-or-die record is ridiculously amazing.
0-2 Rakesh takes a bonus from under Fazel Atrachali's nose
0-1 Ajay Kumar goes in and takes out the debutant with a running hand touch on the right inside defence
0-0 Ajinkya Kapre gets the first raid but walks back with nothing. His inclusion makes the U Mumba attack a three-pronged one
U Mumba: Fazel Atrachali, Abhishek Singh, Ashish Sangwan, Ajinkya Kapre, V Ajith Kumar, Harendra Kumar, Rinku
Gujarat Giants: Rakesh S, Sunil Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal, Rakesh Narwal, Ajay Kumar, Ankit, Girish Maruti Ernak
Gujarat Giants ’ horrid form continued, as they succumbed to a 46-37 loss against the Bengaluru Bulls in their previous outing. While the Giants young raiding unit held their own with 24 points, the defence had another disappointing night. Only three other teams average fewer tackle points than Gujarat this season. The Giants have only one win in their last eight games, a 40-22 win over the Telugu Titans, who are rooted to the bottom of the points table and haven’t won a game this season. The Giants’ hopes of claiming a playoff spot are diminishing fast, and they need to muster a run of good results to keep them alive.
U Mumba have suffered a slump in form that has seen them slip to eighth on the points table. They have won only one of their last six games and none of their previous three. They showed tremendous grit to come back from a five-point deficit late in the game and secure a tie against the Bengal Warriors in their last match. Abhishek Singh finished as his team’s top scorer with 13 raid points, while V Ajith Kumar contributed five. Substitute Rahul Sethpal proved to be the game-changer for U Mumba, scoring four raid points and three tackle points in an impressive outing. Despite their poor run of results, U Mumba could realistically climb to fifth on the table with a win on Tuesday. Coach Rajaguru Subramanian will likely be disappointed with anything less than a victory against a team that has struggled all season long.
8:10PM: An interesting game unfolds as a strategically shrewd Dabang Delhi, sans Naveen Kumar, turned out with their plans in place for Patna Pirates. Follow that game LIVE here: Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Dabang Delhi beat Patna Pirates 32-29, back on top
8:05PM: The 2022 edition of the Sportstar Aces Awards is back and we are celebrating the marvellous year for Indian Sports that 2021 was. From Neeraj Chopra and the other Olympic and Paralympic medallists to the Indian cricket team, we have a bunch of nominees who need your vote to win! Support your favourite athlete/team here .
8PM: Hello folks! Welcome to our live coverage of the second game of the evening between Gujarat Giants and U Mumba. Before we get to that, here are the results from the last three days -