Puneri Paltan completely outclassed U Mumba 42-23 in Match 52 of vivo Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru. The season's first Maharashtra Derby belonged to the team from Pune who brought out an all-round performance against a Mumbai side desperately lacking ideas. Left-cover Vishal Bhardwaj and all-rounder Nitin Tomar picked up High 5s for the Pune team who jumped to 10 th on the points table. Mumbai will be left to wonder what they need to do to plug the gap left by injured raider Ajith Kumar. Abhishek Singh has struggled to lead the team in his absence with no other raider stepping up.
The first half of the derby was dominated by Pune with Aslam Inamdar and Nitin Tomar impressing in their raids. After a cautious start to the match, Nitin Tomar produced a stunning 3-point Super Raid in the 13th minute to initiate Pune's charge for an ALL OUT. They clinched it eventually with 4 minutes to interval and opened a 4-point lead. Mumbai looked disjointed as a unit, clearly missing V Ajith Kumar's presence in the raiding department. Abhishek Singh tried his best to help Mumbai stay in touch with their arch-nemesis, but the half ended 18-10 with Pune in the lead.
Pune coach Anup Kumar wanted his team to slow down their raids, but Aslam Inamdar had other plans as he produced a 3-point Super Raid at the start of the second half. Paltan got their second ALL OUT in the 4 th minute after the restart as their defence steamrolled the Mumbai raiders. Pune opened up a 17-point lead with 10 minutes remaining as Vishal Bhardwaj and Baldev Singh ensured their corners remained raid-proof. They got another ALL OUT immediately after the first Time Out as Vishal Bhardwaj picked his High 5. Cover defender Abinesh Nadarajan also impressed as Pune opened a 21-point lead in the final minutes. The experienced Nitin Tomar picked up a High 5 in the closing stages as Pune won the derby comfortably.