Vizag: It was the perfect start for the defending champions U Mumba as they opened their Pro Kabaddi Season 3 account with a win over hosts Telugu Titans. Despite a late surge by the Titans, the Mumbai franchise silenced the home fans with a 27-25 win over the hosts.
From the first minute itself, U Mumba's intention was clear about picking up where they left off in Season 2. Captain Anup Kumar began with a perfect raid to remove a Telugu Titans defender and then followed up with 2 bonus points in the first half. New signing Rakesh Kumar also earned a point, allowing himself to simply ease into the game and his new team.
The starting line-up saw a surprising change from the regular starting seven for U Mumba with local boy Rishank Devadiga being left out for Shabeer Bapu. That quickly changed when by the middle of the first half, Shabeer had to be subbed for Rishank, who immediately made an impact upon entering the mat, scoring 2 points in his first raid.
The moment of the match that established U Mumba's dominance came in the final minute of the first half. Rishank went in for the raid with 3 Telugu Titans players left and the threat of an all out for the home team. Using his agility and pace that earned him laurels in the previous editions, Rishank successfully secured the first all-out of Season 3 for U Mumba along with a super raid in the process. This bumped up U Mumba's lead to 10 points and they led 18-8 at half time.
The second half began with U Mumba continuing to lead through some inspired defending from the dynamic duo of Surender Nada and Mohit Chhillar. The hosts tried to claw their way back but with Rahul Chaudhari unable to give his team the impetus needed, U Mumba were cruising till the final 5 minutes.
The second all out of the season came from the side of the Telugu Titans who sprung a complete surprise on the defending champions. With 2 minutes to go, Rahul Chaudhari entered the U Mumba den only to come back out with 3 points and an all out to his name. This gave the hosts some hope for a comeback but despite Vishal Mane getting out in the final raid of the match, U Mumba were successful in riding out a 27-25 win in the end.
When asked about the reason for Rishank's exclusion from the starting seven, both captain Anup Kumar and Man of the Match Rishank Devadiga gave 'team strategy' as a reason. "It had to be either Rishank or Shabeer (Bapu). We started with Shabeer and when he had to come off, Rishank was the only choice to replace him. Whoever performed would be given a chance and today Rishank performed which was great." Said Anup Kumar about his raider.
Rishank was very thankful of the performance that he put up which earned him the Moment of the Match award. "I was very well prepared for whatever came my way and whenever I am given the opportunity I will perform very well. I am very happy for the win and hope that we continue playing in the same way."