Vishakhapatnam, January 30: Defending champions U Mumba squeaked through by a narrow 27-25 margin against host Telugu Titans in the opener of the Season 3 of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League here today. The champions were well served by substitute Rishank Devadiga who came in for an off-colour Shabbeer Bapu.
Sharfudeen midway through the first half scored as many as 9 raid points. He was responsible for inflicting upon the rivals the first all-out or ‘lona’ to put his side in the driver’s seat. That five point super raid helped Mumbai to surge ahead 18-8 at half-time.
The champions had made a subdued start to trail initially as Rahul Chaudhari the rival skipper and Sukesh Hegde looked to be in good rhythm. But once Anup and debutant, former India skipper Rakesh Kumar got into the act U Mumba gradually went up 8-5 and never looked back thereafter. On the other hand the famed Mumba defence led by Jeeva Kumar and assisted ably by the corner men Surendra Nada and Mohit Chhillar posed quite a few problems for the Titans.
The second half saw the winners extend their lead to 25-13 and further at 26-14 with about four minutes left on the clock. Rahul tried and so did Sukesh towards the end. Sukesh garnerd four points, two each in two raids and Rahul got a couple. Sukesh did a lion jump over the chain to send the home crowd into raptures but U M umba held on despite suffering an all-out with about 90 seconds left. The score read 27-22 at that time and Rahul’s two-pointer made it 27-24. At that time the winners used Anup and Rakesh to while away precious seconds with their trademark empty raids.
With Meraj Shaykh the Iranian entering for the last raid U Mumba sacrificed Vishal Mane to seal their victory and Telugu Titans fate.
TVS Best Raider: Sukesh Hegde – Telugu Titans
Bajaj Electricals Inspiring Defender: Dharmaraj Cherlathan – Telugu Titans
Telugu Titans Moment of the Match: Rishank Devadiga – U Mumba
Gionee Marathon Man of the Match: Dharmaraj Cherlathan – Telugu Titan
Flipkart Audience ki wish Award: Rahul Chaudhari – Telugu Titans.