Mumbai, Sep 1 :
Jaipur Pink Panthers, owned by Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, were crowned the champions of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi after they beat U Mumba, 35-24 in an enthralling final here Sunday.
Pirates beat Bengaluru Bulls, 29-22 to take the third spot.
The Jaipur Pink Panthers and U Mumba, fixed against each other by an uncanny twist of fate to end the league with the same match that got it all started.
The Mumbai crowd, it should be noted, suffered from a foundational split. The Jaipur team, with its immense talent and Bollywood support, found itself with the same amount of hometown boost as the opposing Mumbai squad. An equal glow of orange and pink filled the stands, but this equality would not manifest itself on the mat.
Both teams played with an ardent spirit, and the concept of ultimate victory added a previously unseen strength and speed to their already tremendous skill.
The final five minutes however, placed the Jaipur Pink Panthers 11 points ahead and the ultimate winners of the league.
For the first 10 minutes, throughout lightning raids and thunderous tackles that sent raiders flying out of the lobby, neither teams would give up any ground. But the 11th minute saw the scales fall in the Panther’s favour.
Two tactical mistakes from the Mumbai team had left them with only Riskank Devadiga, who hopelessly outnumbered could not outsmart the Jaipur defence. Thus, an all-out, put the Panthers ahead 13 – 7. They would fight to maintain this lead with tooth and nail, and their determination would be well rewarded.
An impossible escape from Shabeer Sharfudheen gave U Mumba two points, as the audience was treated to Shabeer spinning himself out of a full-faced grab by two Panthers.
Followed up by a successful tackle, Mumbai was able to bring the scores to 16 – 12, closing in on the Panther’s lead. But after Jaipur closed the first half by a single handed, wrecking-ball tackle of Anup by Prashant Chavan, Jaipur was prepped to dominate once again.
Exhibiting the same defensive fortitude that had humiliated Patna in the semi-finals, Jaipur gave the Mumbai team nothing, while Maninder and Jasvir took the players apart.
Faced with an all-out in the 30th minute, the last man crumbled under the Panther attack, and the lead grew to 27 – 15. As the clock clicked on, Jaipur would not ease up at all. As Jasvir walked the centre line in the final minute, running out the final time, it was with the proud knowledge that his team would go down forever as the first champions of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi.