The same two teams which played in the opening match of the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League will clash again in the final. That too at the same venue, the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) in Mumbai. U Mumba will play Jaipur Pink Panthers in the summit clash. Just over a month ago, the hosts kicked off their campaign with a win over the Jaipur-franchise.
On Friday, it was the Mumbai defence that made the difference in the semifinal against Bengaluru Bulls at the NSCI. A low scoring 27-23 win featured the return of Jeeva Kumar, who had not played a match since he injured his right ankle during the earlier Mumbai leg of the league.
With his foot heavily strapped, the 33-year-old marshalled his co-defenders Vishal Mane, Mohit Chillar, and Surender Nada. The defensive effort rendered threats posed by Bangalore’s Ajay Thakur and Manjit Chillar ineffective.
Mumbai captain Anup Kumar too made significant contributions to the score line from a raider’s point of view. Nonetheless, he was constantly substituted for a defender, often Jeeva, to ensure that Mumbai managed to score enough for a spot in the final.
Joining U Mumba is a Jaipur team that had their eight-game winning run stopped in an inconsequential tie in Bangalore. Yet they comprehensively outclassed the Patna side 38-18. Star raider Jasvir Singh and their top scorer Maninder Singh were influential in the rout.