Patna's raider Ravi Dalal trying to escape Jaipur Pink Panthers' trap in the semi-final of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League in Mumbai on August 29, 2014
Hosts UMumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers will clash in the final of the inaugural Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League after beating Bengaluru Bulls and Patna Pirates, respectively, in the semi-finals here tonight.
While Jaipur stormed into the final by trouncing Patna Pirates 38-18 in the completely one-sided first semi-final, UMumbai managed to get past Bengaluru 27-23 in the second semi-final.
U Mumba led through most of the match, with the Bulls managing to get ahead for a few minutes in the first half but surrendering the advantage soon after when their skipper was sent packing by all-rounder Rishank Devadiga.
The ouster, which provided the much needed breakthrough for the Mumbai boys, was followed up with Rajesh Mondal’s exit and two points as Rishank escaped Bengaluru’s four-man defence.
Even Ajay Thakur’s heroics could not help the Bulls as they gifted Mumbai the first LONA points of the match in the 12th minute. With a seven-point lead and an insatiable hunger for points, U Mumba scored their thirteenth point, leaving Bengaluru high and dry towards the end of the first half. With seconds to go for the break, Mumbai’s best raider and the top raider amongst the finalists, Anup Kumar did what he did best, taking the score to 15-9 by half-time.
The second half began with Rishank walking out, reducing the Mumbai team to three. Despite the stacking odds towards an all out, Bengaluru’s star raider Ajay was captured by Anup Kumar and Mohit Chillar in the 34th minute, allowing them a chance at redemption.
Mohit’s brilliance as a defender shone through as he executed the perfect tackles against Manjit and Ajay Thakur.
Mumbai’s best defender Surender Nada also joined the party by single-handedly sending the Bull’s captain back. Re-introduced for the second time in the 33rd minute, Mumbai’s Pawan Kumar failed yet again, reducing the Orange brigade to four. After denying Bengaluru Bulls LONA points for a long time, Mumbai gave in, conceding their first LONA in the 37th minute. Though it offered two vital points to Bengaluru, it was a little too late as the Bulls were tamed 27-23.
Earlier, Jaipur established themselves as the stronger team within the first 15 minutes of the first semi-final and went on to dominate the proceedings for the rest of the match.
Both teams began cautiously before Patna began the fireworks when their best raider Ravi Dalal scored an outstanding three-point raid, sending back Rajesh Narwal, Navneet Gautam and Prashant Chavan of the Panthers.
The league got its first chance to use a TV referral, as a turbo-charged Maninder Singh slammed into Rakesh Kumar, knocking them both clear out of the lobby. The referees gave both teams points.
Moments later, a brave attempt from Sandeep Narwal failed against Jaipur’s impenetrable defence and Patna was left a four-man army by the seventh minute.
After tying at five, Jasvir Singh clawed down Patna’s defence, earning a crucial one-point lead. The lone man standing, Rakesh Kumar, revived his team but gave away the first LONA points of the night, with a hope of a better, stronger comeback.
Nursing an injury, Rakesh was ousted by an easy tackle from the Panthers immediately after. With an escalating lead and a diminishing team, Patna’s inability to handle pressure showed as Maninder reduced them to two men, prompting Patna’s second all-out in the 17th minute. The Pirates were able to derive some satisfaction before halftime by taking out the juggernaut Maninder Singh, but with the first-half clearly dominated by Jaipur, the score was 20-7 at the break.
As the second half began, Patna was denied yet another chance to come back as, one by one, Rakesh, Ravi and Sandeep were sent back, the latter tackled just a few centimetres away from the centre line. As the Panthers continued to race ahead, their lead extended to twenty points as Ravi failed against the strong defence of the Panthers, granting them their third LONA.
With seven minutes to go and a lot of ground to cover, Rakesh’s lack of form put his team on the back foot again, setting them back by 11 points. Playing his first game, Bashimov was able to gain a point which did not help much as Patna conceded their fourth LONA, giving Jaipur an unassailable lead.
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