From the very beginning, they looked like champions and U Mumba did finish as the champions of the Pro Kabaddi League 2015 on Sunday, 23 August. Only six points separated them from their opponents, Bengaluru Bulls, at a high-capacity NSCI Stadium in Mumbai.
Mumbai star raider Shabeer Bapu showed his class once more as he guided his side to the 36-30 win in the final of the lucrative kabaddi league this year.
He was efficiently supported by U Mumba inspirational skipper Anup Kumar as well as the Mumbai defence featuring Mohit Chhillar, Vishal Mane, Surender Nada and Jeeva Kumar.
The first half of the game turned out to be a close affair as the Bulls tried taking the fight to Mumbai in every department of play. However, U Mumba looked far better in the duel.
Mohit got the better of Bengaluru Bulls star raider Ajay Thakur in as many as four occasions in the first half to prevent the Bulls from notching some crucial points.
The teams went into the lemon break with U Mumba leading 16-8.
Dharmaraj Cheralathan -- the oldest player in the league -- marshalled the Bengaluru defence like an unbreakable wall. Dharmaraj prevented both Anup and Shabeer on various occasions.
The score was tied 23-all in the 33rd minute of the game as Ajay came up with a five-point super raid to provide a pathway for the Bangalore side to make a possible comeback.
It soon turned out to be a tactical battle of defences by both teams as Bengaluru captain Manjeet Chhillar tried his best to pick up points, but to no avail. The Mumbai backline proved more resilient as the home crowd cheered them on.
From 29-24 to 30-25, it were Mumbai who were getting the advantage in the closing stages.
And in the end, the home team stood firm and gave one more of their superb performances in the competition this year to remain the last-man standing with the trophy.
Shabeer stayed the Best Raider of the final.
"Shabeer Bapu gets all the credit for the win because of his super raid and that turned the match. The Mumbai crowd were brilliant and we thank them so much for their support," said U Mumba skipper Anup.
"We won because of that tonight. [Bengaluru skipper] Manjeet is a good all-rounder and a good player. Whatever plan we had for him didn't work and he played well. The celebrations were intense because we have been waiting for 1 year to win this trophy and now we have won it."
Runners-up captain Manjeet Chhillar praised his men and said that they will be back next year. "I was happy with the way my boys performed today – they gave their heart to the game. Yes, we lost but it was a great match and the best final match one could have expected," Manjeet said.
"We will be back next year," he added.
U Mumba received Rs 1 crore as prize money, while runners-up Bengaluru Bulls were awarded a prize money of Rs 50 lakh.