A collective team performance helped Gujarat Giants beat U Mumba 36-33 in match 131 of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 here on Saturday. The victory on the final day of the league stages helped the Giants seal a place in the playoffs and in the process knocked out Jaipur Pink Panthers. Raider Rakesh S was the star for two-time finalists Gujarat. He scored a Super 10 (13 points) and ensured the Giants had an early lead in the match. The experienced defence then guarded the team to secure an important victory.
U Mumba ended their hot-and-cold campaign with a defeat and will probably need to add more firepower to the squad in the summer. Their raider Ajith Kumar did however pick up a Super 10 (11 points) in the match.
Coach Manpreet Singh’s men knew a win could secure a playoff spot and started the match with positive intent. Their raider Rakesh S was in red-hot form as he consistently found errors in Mumbai’s defence that looked low on confidence. The Mumbai team had clearly been deflated by their poor campaign and Gujarat looked to take advantage by pushing for an early lead. They got their first all-out in the 7th minute when Rakesh clinched a 2-point raid (+2 for all-out). That made the scores 10-4 and despite Shivam’s best efforts in the raids, Mumbai could not close the gap. Rakesh picked his Super 10 in the final minute of the first half that ended 19-14.
Gujarat clinched another all-out in the first move of the second half to open a 9-point lead. Ajith Kumar added a few points for U Mumba but they lacked the usual desire on the mat allowing Gujarat to sustain their lead. Fazel Atrachali, usually a lively character dishing out plans to his teammates, was quiet as he watched the game unfold. He did however produce a stunning tackle on Mahendra Rajput in the 10th minute to remind the world of his limitless abilities. Shivam then scored a 2-point raid to reduce Gujarat to just two men on the mat.
Ajith completed the clean-up act with a 2+2 point raid after the Time Out to make it a 4-point match. He also picked up his Super 10 for Mumbai as they sensed a possible comeback. But the Gujarat defense understood the importance of the win and kept calm in the final minutes to clinch a win.