A closely contested ‘Maharashtra Derby' of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) ended without any result as U Mumba and Puneri Paltan played a 33-33 draw and shared points at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.
Abhishek Singh clinched a Super 10 (11 raid points) for U Mumba as they clawed back from being six points down in the final five minutes to secure a crucial draw.
The match got off to a slow start with raiders of both the sides wary of the strong defences they were up against. Pune's Nitin Tomar was bullied off the mat in his first raid of the match and that set the tone for the first half with both sets of defences performing admirable tackles.
Raider Sandeep Narwal was in his ‘beast mode' for Mumbai while Pune's Manjeet showed his versatility as an all-rounder, pulling off impressive super tackles. But Mumbai's raiders were slightly better on the mat and the season two champions inflicted the first All-Out of the match in the tenth minute to open up a six-point lead.
Pune didn't lose their cool after the All-Out though and ensured they stayed in the game for the remainder of the first half. Mumbai led Pune 16-12 at half-time.
Pune, coached by former Mumbai star Anup Kumar, kept doing their work cleverly in the second half, and a smart young raider Pankaj Mohite jumped into the lobby when he saw the defenders rushing at him, which fetched his side three points and pushed the Mumbai team towards an All-Out.
Pune clinched the All-Out within five minutes after the restart to level the points at 20-20. With Nitin out of the mat after being injured, the raiding duties had fallen heavily on Manjeet's shoulders but the all-rounder was more than up to the challenge.
His three-point raid in the 30th minute meant Mumbai had to face another battle to prevent an All-Out, one which they failed with five minutes remaining to hand over a six-point lead to Pune.
However, some clever raiding by Abhishek and a few miscalculated moves by Pune's defenders, allowed the Mumbai side to make a comeback and level the points in the penultimate move of the match. Hadi Tajik held his ground in the final raid to see out a draw.