Calcutta: The Abhishek Bachchan-owned Jaipur Pink Panthers were the crowd favourites, but the loudest cheers were reserved for the Bengal Warriors when they got ready to play their last home match of the inaugural Star Sports Pro-Kabaddi League against U Mumba, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, here, on Saturday.
Around 5,000-odd spectators, along with the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Ashok Dinda, Jaidip Mukerjea and other celebrities, had turned up to see the Warriors finishing off their home phase in style. But they had to return disappointed as U Mumba won the match 38-29.
For sure, the Warriors did put up a brave fight, but it wasn’t good enough to beat their opponents who are on top of the table with 23 points from five matches so far. The Warriors, on the other hand, are at fourth with 10 points.
U Mumba moved into a commanding lead early on, taking a 22-12 lead at half-time.
In the second session, the Mumbai outfit kept up the tempo with its impeccable take downs and precise attacks. Captain Anup Kumar led from the front along with Rishank Devadiga.
In defence, Shabeer Bapu Sharfudheen, Surinder, Mohit Chhillar and Mohammed Ziaur Rahman displayed great teamwork constantly operated down the left and middle to a supreme effect.
The Warriors, who were falling further and far behind made a last-gasp attempt to salvage what they could out of the match by bringing on Seong Ryeol Kim in place of Praveen Kumar. It failed to make any difference to the final result, though.
U Mumba decided to play safe once in a commanding lead, their raids were not risky and they kept their numbers up in defence, constantly trapping Bengal raiders with explosive and smart take downs. Shabeer was declared the best raider of the match, while Mohit was named the best defender.
Meanwhile, the Pink Panthers had it easy against Patna Pirates, winning 40-18. The Jaipur outfit was in control right from the onset, taking a 22-6 lead at the halfway stage.
From thereon itself, it looked to be a matter of time before the Pink Panthers completely the formalities against their opponents who weren’t up to the mark at all.
Maninder Singh was named the best raider, while Rohit Rana was adjudged the best defender of this game.
The Pink Panthers were relentless in their assault and by the 26th minute, they had put up their second set of LONA points.
The Pirates looked all at sea and three minutes later, they took off Tae Dok Eom and replaced him with Sudeep — a move that was clearly meant to bring greater stability to their waning defence.
However, Sudeep was looking even weaker than Tae, allowing the opposition raiders to take advantage time and again. The Pirates, letting the match slip from their grasp, also gave away that prised fourth spot.