Mumbai, 26 June 2016: Defying history, Puneri Paltan stumped U Mumba as they won the first Maharashtra Derby of the season 41-19, at Dome at the NSCI SPV stadium in Mumbai today. Unable to maintain their unbeaten streak against the Pune team, Mumbai lost the match to their state rivals courtesy of power-packed performances by Manjeet Chillar and Ajay Thakur who dominated the mat across both the halves of the match.
The first half belonged to Puneri Paltan as an in-form Ajay Thakur took U Mumba to task inflicting three super raids, sending three players back to the bench on each occasion allowing no time for the opponent to settle down. With Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar outsmarting every U Mumba strategy, the Orange and Black army were all-out twice within 10 minutes of the match. The only silver lining in the first half was debutant Vikash Kumar, who even under tremendous pressure was the best raider for the team during the first half with two consecutive successful raids to his name. Taking advantage of U Mumba’s inability to settle down on the mat, Puneri Paltan took a 16 point lead over them, gaining the upper hand on the proceedings of the match at half time.
With the focus on narrowing the margin of points, the beginning of the second half saw Rakesh Kumar executing the perfect super-tackle, sending Deepak Hooda out and more importantly, saving the team from another all-out. Stepping up, Captain Anup Kumar followed suit and scored a 3-point raid that included a bonus and two touches to his credit. However, a costly error of judgement from Jeeva and Rishank’s loss of balance soon turned the game in Pune’s favour yet again. With four minutes to go and U Mumba denied every single chance to make any sort of a comeback, the team had their fate sealed as they faced their third all-out of the night. A shaky start and a few costly errors saw Mumbai succumb to a 22-point defeat against Pune.
Reflecting on the match Anup Kumar said “The team needs to re-group and the defence has to come together. We have to work on minimising errors and come together as a unit. We are going to Jaipur tomorrow and will be working on strategizing and more importantly execution of the strategies on the mat”
U Mumba now move to Jaipur, where they will take on defending champions Patna Pirates, on 29th June 2016 at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium.