Mumbai, May 6 (UNI) Mumbai City expectedly bagged a grand double in the inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Gold Cup Kabaddi tournament, organised by the Ramsheth Thakur Samajik Vikas Mandal, at the CKT College in Panvel, near here.
Billed as the favourites, Mumbai men methodically beat back the challenge by hosts Raigad as World cupper and Asian Games gold medallist Gaurav Shetty came up with a sterling performance. Mumbai won 23-13 in the end, a convincing margin in a title match. On the other hand, the Mumbai girls found the going tough despite having a host of international and national stars in their ranks.
The favourites huffed and puffed to a 18-15 victory over Thane to pocket the top prize of Rs 1.50 lakh offered by the organisers for the winners in both sections.
Finally, the collective strength of Meghali Korgaonkar, Gauri Wadekar, Sujata Kalgaonkar and Snehal Salunkhe came to the winners aid. For Thane, former Maharastra captain and a veteran of many battle Gautami Aroskar played a lone but distinctive role and walked away with her head held high to a standing ovation from the 10,000 strong crowd.
Gaurav Shetty, a bit unlucky not to have won the player of the tournament, started with a bang for Mumbai, getting three rivals out in his opening raid to set the tone for the grand finale. His mate from Air-India Deepak Zazot bagged a couple of points and Mumbai City gave their rivals a 'lona' within three minutes to make it 9-1 in their favour. Raigad struck back thereafter, as Anil Patil netted three points. Raigad skipper Ashish Mhatre too pulled his weight, but that was not enough. Gaurav kept on pilling the pressure and stealing points at will to make it 15-7 in his team's favour at the break.
Ashish Mhatre, meanwhile, was trapped thus giving Mumbai City the upperhand.
Both the teams played cautiously after resumption. But Raigad failing to pick up the gauntlet meant Mumbai got exactly what they wanted.
''The lead was not substantial so we had to be cautious. It was they who had to take the initiative,'' said Tarak Raul, the Mumbai City coach, who is known to be a master tactician.
In the Invitational tournament for the Raigad Clubs, Gaondevi-Sudkoli beat Zunzar-Poynad 22-15 to pocket Rs 51,000.
Sagar Gaykar, Rajesh Patil and Sachin Vavekar played extremely well for the winner, while Kuldeep Patil and Bharat Chavarkar impressed for the losers.
A special function was also held by the Maharashtra government to felicitate the state team, which won the National Kabaddi title after a long gap of 28 years. The Chief Minister presented each player a cheque of Rs 51,000 and a letter of appreciation and a shawl and coconut to felicitate them in a traditional manner in the presence of Ministers Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Vasant Purke (Sports) and Ramsheth Thakur, former MP and Prashant Thakur, President of Panvel Civic Body.
Awards: Best Player : Ashish Mhatre (Raigad), Gautami Aroskar (Thane) Rs 15,000 each Best Raider : Gaurav Shetty (Mumbai City), Sujata Kalgaonkar (Mumbai City) Rs 10,000 each.
Best Catcher : Deepak Zazot (Mumbai City), Gauri Wadekar (Mumbai City) Rs 10,000 each.
UNI GS SSS AE RN2238