U Mumba sign off Season 4 with a win over Dabang Delhi

U Mumba sign off Season 4 with a win over Dabang Delhi

The Season 3 finalists unable to qualify for the semis despite spirited comeback

27th July, 2016, New Delhi: It was a bittersweet end for U Mumba as they won 38-34 through a spirted team effort against Dabang Delhi but signalled the end of their Season 4 campaign as they failed to make the play-offs and finished 5th on 42 points.

The game began with U Mumba needing to win over Dabang Delhi by a margin of 45 points, a steep task with the fact that Puneri Paltan had already beaten Bengaluru Bulls in the earlier match. The home team wanted to make a statement to their home crowd and star raider Kashiling Adake along with Prashant Kumar Rai lit up the stage as they out foxed the U Mumba defence to hand them their first all-out in the 10th minute itself, the score being 12-6. While the latter usually set the pace of the game, Delhi wanted to move things along rapidly which threw U Mumba off their game, making mistakes in both attack and defence. In a do or die raid for Prashant Kumar Rai, he was successfully tackled but defender Surjeet was sent out because he had stepped over the end line. A review called by Rakesh Kumar was unsuccessful and U Mumba sank lower, the score being 16-11. The lanky Delhi raider continued to wreak havoc on the orange and black, executing a super raid and leaving Anup as the last man just before half-time to inflict a second all-out inside the first half. The Mumbai outfit went into half-time with the score 24-13 in favour of Delhi.

It looked like a stern half-time talk from coach Bhaskaran because when the second half began, U Mumba began to recall their winning formula. Star raider Rishank Devadiga, who hasn't shown his spectacular Season 3 form in this season, began collecting touch points with ease. Surjeet and Jeeva Kumar, the latter having not performed to expectations this season, were calm and tactical when it came to their tackles. But the sign of the pressure of making the play-offs was seen getting to captain Anup Kumar as he was signalled a two-minute time-out when the referee showed him a yellow card. Soon Dabang Delhi were all-out in the 25th minute through a two-point raid from Rishank with the score 27-24. After this, both captain and team began to dictate the pace of the game and force the Delhi team to commit errors. Rishank was extremely fired up and that was seen in a particular raid where he carried the defender across the mid line. With the margin of qualifying for the play-offs seeming too steep, it looked like the U Mumba side wanted to end things on a high. They took the lead in the match for the first time when Rishank managed to inflict a second all-out, eliminating the last man Meraj Sheykh, the score going to 30-34. Prashant Kumar Rai managed to reach his super 10 raid points just after Rishank. But in the end, when captain Anup rang out the buzzer raid, U Mumba ended their campaign with a win.

Commenting on their journey in Season 4, captain Anup Kumar said, "We won more games than Pune overall but our big loss in the first leg against them hurt us. Our players could not give their 100% and we lost some of our games due to our weak defence. I don't know if our team will be the same next season but we will bounce back."

Coach Bhaskaran dismissed the fact that a complete overhaul of the team was the reason for them missing out on the play-offs. "We lost big names in the auction but our new players from the auction too came after good performances from other teams." When asked the reason for Rishank being unable to repeat his Season 3 form, coach Bhaskaran indicated, "Rishank was the best raider in the first and last game but he lost his rhythm in the middle. Maybe the pressure of performing got to him"

With four season completed for him, Anup indicated his desire to continue playing the game as long as he can. "I will play kabaddi until I am fit and I'm performing well. The day my performance goes down, I will quit. I wish I could play for 15-20 years though."

Rishank Devadiga stretches to reach a Dabang Delhi defender during their encounter tonight in New Delhi

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