14 February 2016, Pune: The thoughts of U Mumba’s performance suffering because of the absence of their key men were banished when the defending champions secured a dominating 32-21 win over in form Bengal Warriors on the last day of the Pune leg. It was a power-packed performance where the young team stated their dominance with the help of stand in captain Rakesh Kumar who rose to the occasion.
The match began in spirited fashion with star raider Rishank Devadiga in fine form and grabbing a point to open the scoring. In the 8th minute, Bhupender Singh was adjudged to have gotten a super raid but on review from the Bengal Warriors, he had gotten just two points. With the last raid before half time taken by Rakesh himself, the Mumbai side has a slim 2 point lead going into the break.
The second half displayed the dominance that U Mumba were famous for in their title winning season. The chance of an all out in the first two minutes of the second half was dismissed when Rishank failed to cross the line in time despite touching both the remaining Bengal players. A raid by Mahendra Rajput held off the inevitable which came minutes later when the same raider was tackled by the U Mumba defence. This gave the defending champions a lead of 4 points with the score 20-16. The men in orange and black didn’t look back from here on. Rishank’s quick touches and hunger to score more bore fruits as he racked up the raid points, 9 in total. With 4 minutes left on the clock, the Bengal Warriors succumbed to a second all out which stretched the lead for U Mumba to 29-18. The champions didn’t rest on their laurels eager to banish any hopes of Bengal taking even a point from this match. Pawan and Jeeva Kumar combined in a strong block to remove Nitin Tomar while Fazel Atrachali was once again instrumental with his single blocks especially in the dying minutes. The end result saw U Mumba run out 32-21 winners and climb to 3rd spot on the table.
This meant that the defending champions defied odds and secured three straight wins without their four key components of the title winning season. This was the question for Rishank Devadiga during the post match press conference. “Fazel came in for Surender Nada and he has been playing brilliantly. We had a training camp before the league where we worked out a good combination. When the players come back, the coach will take a decision based on strategy.”
Talking about neutralising the famed Bengal defence, Rishank claimed that that was the strategy all along. “We had worked out in training that we needed to stop Nilesh Shinde and Girish Ernak. Once that was done, we could easily secure the all out which eventually happened. We have been working brilliantly as a unit and we are glad that we have such a united team.”
The defending champions now travel to Patna to face the home team Patna Pirates on the 19th of February.
U Mumba’s Fazel Atrachali blocks Bengal Warriors raid
Rishank Devadiga defies the Bengal Warriors defence