U Mumba fell to a 34-24 loss to defending champions Patna Pirates in Kolkata. A lack of defensive cohesiveness sees U Mumba continue in 5th place with 27 points from 5 wins ahead of their own home leg.
It was a question of continuing that same momentum gained with wins against Bengaluru Bulls and Jaipur Pink Panthers for the men in orange and black. It was also a question of redemption for U Mumba having won only one of their previous four encounters against the Pirates. With Suresu Kumar starting, it was evident that he would be used for their do-or-die raids and it was thus seen as he returned with a point each to give U Mumba the lead in the 5th minute. Jeeva Kumar was particularly effective with his dash and managed to keep both Pardeep Narwal and Surjeet Singh silent. The score holding atA5 all, it became a game of attrition as strategy indicated points being scored only during do-or-die raids. In a span of 10 minutes, U Mumba went from a tied score to suffering an all-out at the hands of Rajesh and Dharmaraj Cheralathan, the score being 12-6. Patna Pirates showed their intent of keeping up with the fast pace of the game and continued to extract mistakes from the U Mumba defence, unseen in the previous two matches. Star raider Rishank Devadiga didn’t come into his own which didn’t help matters as the Season 3 finalists were reduced to just one man at half-time through a Rajesh Mondal super raid, the score being 19-8.
In the 21st minute, substitute Surender Singh was tackled and U Mumba were all-out for the second time in the match. This gave Patna Pirates a lead of 14 points and visibly no way back for the men in orange and black. It was at this point that the aim became to close the huge lead and possibly earn a bonus point. With this in mind, the defence began to time their tackles better and soon the attack became more confident. Rishank managed to come back with two points in one raid and while Patna took their time in raiding, U Mumba began to dictate the pace of the game and even effect a super tackle on Rajesh during a do-or-die raid courtesy of captain Anup Kumar, Jeeva and Surjeet. While Anup and Rishank both were trying to quickly close the gap, unfortunately time ran out and Patna rang out 34-24 winners.
With visible errors from the defence part of U Mumba’s loss, coach Bhaskaran believes that coordination is the key to eliminating these issues. “Our defenders are individually talented as players but are not clicking together as a unit. The past three seasons, we were coordinated from corner to corner. This time, our cover is from Services and joined us on the eve of the league. This has affected our coordination.“
Rishank Devadiga might not have performed to the level of his Season 3 outing but is confident that he will do better come their home leg. “I’m not under pressure but I’m trying my best to make a strong offensive unit.”
Coach Bhaskaran is confident that playing at their home ground should turn the tide around.“We are looking forward to going home and playing in front of the home crowd. That always works in our favour!”
U Mumba now return home for their home leg that begins on the 20th of July with a preview press conference to be held at 12:30pm on the 19th of July, Tuesday at Dome @ NSCI SVP Stadium.