U Mumba won comfortably against hosts Puneri Paltan despite fielding a second string team in a Pro Kabaddi Season Two contest at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Kreeda Nagari here today.
Having established an unassailable lead atop the league table, the Mumbai coach E Bhaskaran indicated the confidence he had in his youngsters by not fielding any of his first seven and going ahead with the bench strength.
There was no Anup Kumar, no Shabeer Bapu or say a Rishank Devadiga or even a Mohit Chhillar and yet they inflicted two all-outs on their next door neighbours, winning 39-34.
From 13-13 at half-time, the Mumbai side led by Pradeep Kumar had at one time a solid 36-23 lead, courtesy Pawan Kumar. The result took U Mumba to 60 points with one match to play against Telugu Titans who are in second place with 45 points. Puneri Paltan, with are in eighth place.
With Pradeep Kumar leading from the front with five raid points in the first half, the new look side took time to settle but never allowed their opponents to establish an upperhand. Pawan Kumar, who was to finish with eight points with one super raid worth three, drew a blank in the first half. For Pune, it was the tall Amit Rathi who collected four raid points and stand-in captain Jitesh Joshi got two. Manoj Kumar and Manoj Dhull gave a good account in defence for Pune.
U Mumba came back with renewed vigour after a pep talk by their captain cool Anup Kumar at half-time. Pawan found his rhythm almost immediately and when Bhupender started using his body blocks to perfection it was a different Mumbai side. Pradeep himself and the quiet looking Iran national captain Fazel Atrachali suddenly came up with two super tackles to pile up more pressure. This helped their team avoid the all-out which looked imminent and instead to turn the tables on their rivals. By the 30th minute the winners went up 25-20 a lead they were to never relinquish.