BOTH BENGALURU BULLS and U Mumba fought each other till the last second of the game in an incredibly equal contest, but Mumbai came out as the winners by the minimum difference possible. They clinched the game 23-24.
Bengaluru Bulls began their quest for the top of the table with successful raid from Pawan Kumar and a tackle on Rishank Devadiga. U Mumba weren't to be undone; captain Anup Kumar got a touch and the defenders pinned Ashish Kumar. 2-2 after 5 minutes.
Anup Kumar went raiding again but this time he got caught. A number of empty raids followed as both sets of defenders sought to play safe until one of the raiders was forced to take initiative.
The occasion came when Bengaluru's Ashish Kumar came in for his do-or-die raid. Sunil Kumar managed to get hold of him, and the tackle was successful. U Mumba's Gurwinder Singh got a touch, and Rohit Kumar of the Bulls got back with a touch of his own. 10 minutes later, the score was still tied, 4-4.
But in his next raid he weas caught. That coupled with a touch that Rishank Devadiga had got reduced the Bulls to 3 on the mat, on the verge of an all-out.
But Surender Nada had other plans. When Rishank came next time he got hold of his leg hard enough to completely neutralize his movement. It was the first super tackle of the game and the Bulls had drawn level again; 6-6 after 14 minutes.
Now Bengaluru moved for the kill. Pawan Kumar got a touch, and Mumbai's Gurvinder Singh was pinned. Anup Kumar got a touch but Pawan Sherawat got one too. Anup's next raid was an empty one and the moment he came back, Surender Nada came chasing with an acrobatic vault. Anup escaped the touch but Sunil Kumar did not. A spectacular raid allowed the Bulls to go 10-7 up and now U Mumba were left with 2 on the mat.
Rakesh Kumar came raiding for Mumbai and he managed to get a bonus point. Then Rohit Kumar went on the hunt for Anup and Rakesh. A poorly thought split second movement saw Anup get too close to Rohit and he committed to a half-hearted tackle that Rakesh felt obliged to back up. But the lack of coordination between them allowed Rohit to slip past both their grips. Just like that, the all-out was complete. And just in time for the half-time, too. The Bulls went into the break with a commanding lead of 14-8.
In the second half Mumbai came out with their minds prepared for an all-it-takes battle, and it showed from the get-go. ANup Kumar ran back to back successful raids, while Rohit and Pawan Kumar got touches for the other side. U Mumba's Rishank got caught again and Pawan Shrawat of Bengaluru got a touch, taking the Bulls' lead to 18-11.
But this was where Mumbai made their stand. Rakesh Kumar got back to back successful raids, and so did Anup Kumar. Rohit Kumar meanwhile found himself pinned in the opponent's court. In a blazing exchange of 4 minutes, Bengaluru found their lead diminished to 18-16 with their numbers dwindling.
Pawan got a p for the Bulls but Anup was on cue getting a touch. With only Pawan left on the mat, he tried hard to get a bonus on the raid, but the defenders wouldn't even have that. He was tackled hard and the all-out was coplete. 32 minutes in, Mumbai had regained their lead; 19-20.
As the game moved into its final minutes the contest became a stare-off between the teams. Anup Kumar was caught by the Bulls, so Mumbai caught Pawan Kumar. Bengaluru's Rohit Kumar got a touch and the defenders caught Suresu Kumar, so U Mumba hit right back with a Anup Kumar raid and a trapping of Pawan Kumar. It was 22-23 with barely a minute to spare.
And this is when the Mumbai defenders delivered the final blow. They tackled Rohit Kumar. And that was it. Anup Kumar ate up the seconds with his raid and when Pawan came raiding he only got one touch. And thus, by a hair's width, U Mumba pulled through with a win on a game where they were trailing for so long. Final score was 23-24.
In the end the two teams were incredibly neck to neck. Bengaluru got 13 points from their raids, Mumbai got 14. Bengaluru defenders got them 8 points, the Mumbai defenders won 7. Both had scored 2 all-outs each. While PKL is used to close contests, few are this evenly matched.
But U Mumba were the winners, by however much, and this win saw them jump from the 5th place to the top of the league table - what Bengaluru were eyeing to earn from this match - with 22 points from 7 games. With Patna Pirates' ongoing form their pole position may prove to be short-lived but the signs are encouraging. U Mumba, despite their struggles, are still capable of finishing in the top four. And once they do that, this game shows that on anything can happen on any given night.