U Mumba wins close contest

U Mumba overturned deficits repeatedly for a crucial 37-34 win against UP Yoddha. In the other match, Jaipur Pink Panthers managed to eke out a narrow 30-28 victory against Zone B topper Bengaluru Bulls.

Shabeer Bappu attempts a raid against UP Yoddha in Lucknow on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

Lucknow

Team effort trumped individual brilliance as U Mumba overturned deficits repeatedly for a crucial 37-34 win against UP Yoddha with the Pro Kabaddi League making its fourth pit-stop of the season in the city on Friday.

MATCH STATS: U Mumbai v UP Yoddha; Jaipur Pink Panthers v Bengaluru Bulls

There is a reason teams have been reluctant to write off the former champion despite the team struggling so far in the ongoing fifth season of the PKL. On Friday, the Anup Kumar-led side came back from a 4-12 deficit early in the first half and then again from 26-30 towards the end even as host UP faltered in the final few minutes. With exceptional raiders on both sides, the winner was always to be decided by the better defence and U Mumba edged ahead, the vast experience in its ranks playing a big role.

For a large part, though, UP was kept in the race in the inter-zonal challenge game, through former Mumba star Rishank Devadiga and captain Nitin Tomar. Devadiga scored 14 points, including a couple of three-pointers, while Tomar broke through at crucial moments. Shabeer Bappu did both jobs for Mumba, scoring 13 points and, more importantly, getting the breakthrough at crucial junctures. With both teams effecting a couple of all-outs each, there was little to separate the sides.

Anup's leadership played an important role in regrouping his team after a disappointing first half that saw the Mumba defence going haywire. In fact, every time a UP raider walked in, he looked like walking away with a point as the Mumba chain broke repeatedly.

Post break was different. Substitute Darshan Kadian, playing only his second game, was entrusted with the responsibility of scoring under pressure towards the end, and the youngster delivered. Surinder Singh, who appeared clueless, became the top raider with five points even as UP's defence, in the face of some smart and relentless aggression from Mumba, slipped despite Jeeva Kumar's presence. Tomar did his best with a final attempt in the last few seconds but it was too late.

In the day's other game, Zone A bottom-placed Jaipur Pink Panthers managed to eke out a narrow 30-28 victory against Zone B topper Bengaluru Bulls despite the latter managing to close a nine-point gap in the last one minute, thanks to a combined effort by the two veterans in the side Jasvir Singh and Manjeet Chillar who top-scored for the Jaipur side.

The result: U Mumba 37 (Shabeer Bappu 13, Anup Kumar 8, Surinder Singh 5, Darshan Kadian 4) bt UP Yoddha 34 (Rishank Devadiga 14, Nitin Tomar 7); Jaipur Pink Panthers 30 (Jasvir Singh 10, Manjeet Chillar 8) bt Bengaluru Bulls 28 (Rohit Kumar 11).