LAST SEASON'S finalists U Mumba and Patna Pirates played out yet another classic, neck-to-neck, final-minute-finish thriller at Jaipur tonight, and the defending champions had the last laugh once again. They a victory over rivals U Mumba by a narrow margin of 34-36.
The roller-coster began with Rishank Devadiga picking up some early points for Mumbai and Surjeet Singh, Pardeep Narwal pulling in the same for Patna. The defenders also put in their shift, and the likes of Anup Kumar, Pardeep and Vikash Kumar got trapped. 9 minutes in, it was even-stevens at 6-6 with 1 important difference: U Mumba were down to 2.
Pardeep Narwal came raiding, and he had an all-out in his mind. He went too deep and got super-tackled. Mumbai took a lead, 8-6.
Patna responded by trapping Rakesh Kumar. But when they sent Rajesh Mondal looking for yet another cull, once again he got convincingly trapped. The second super tackle took Mumbai 10-7 up.
Pardeep Narwal ran a successful raid for Patna. Then the Pirates defence managed to drag Gurwinder away from the centre line. Once again, the super tackle was on, and when Pardeep Narwal came in, he was tackled hard yety again. 3 super tackles in thew first 15 minutes took Mumbai 12-9 up.
Patna didn't let go. They trapped Anup Kumar and got Pardeep back on the mat. This time, there was no mistaking it. Pardeep ran in deep, managed to get 2 touches and was back on the centre line safely. The all-out was finally complete and the Pirates had stolen back the lead, going up 12-14 after 18 minutes. And they managed to keep things level at half-time, finishing 14-16 up.
At the start of the second half Patna really went for the kill. Pardeep ran four back to back successful raids and before Mumbai knew it, they were down to 1 man on the mat. Vikash Kumar, the lone Mumba, went raiding and got trapped. The second all-out was complete, and the score was 17-27 with 12 minutes to spare.
Mumbai got a couple of successful raids courtesy Rishank Devadiga and Anup Kumar. But then Pardeep came and got a super raid. 20-30.
But just when it seemed like the match was in the Pirates' pocket U Mumba came back strongly. Rishank hit the money thrice, including a super raid. Then Pardeep got cought. This was followed by 2 Anup Kumar successful raids, followed by new Patna substitute Mahesh Goud getting caught. 38 minutes into the game, the scoreboard read an amazing 33-33.
Both teams went into a calculative mode and some tense empty raids followed. Then Rishank Devadiga got a touch. U Mumba were leading, 34-33.
But Pardeep replied with a 2-point raid. The match was in its last minute and now Patna were leading 34-35.
Anup Kumar came in for the last raid, and he had to get a point. The Patna defenders hung back, allowing him to get too deep, then trapped him. It was a clinical finish to secure a win in a game that could have gone either way. Patna Pirates were victorious 34-36.
The match was being billed as a grudge match for last season's final. And the contest delivered big time. Both the teams gave their best and the indication was clear: the rivalry between these two teams was far from over this match, and the way this match ended signaled that the return leg will see U Mumba apprach this fixture with some unfinished business in their minds.