PKL 2019, Season Review: U Mumba | The side that punched above its weight
U Mumba have made a very good reputation for themselves with their sensational performances across the last 7 seasons. They even featured in the final thrice in a row from 2014 to 2016, and from thereon became one of the most respected teams in the Pro Kabaddi League.
In the past, U Mumba have boasted of some big players like Surender Nada, Mohit Chhillar, Anup Kumar and Siddharth Desai. But this time around, they entered the tournament with a relatively weaker side.
There was no superstar raider around. Fazel Atrachali’s presence was the only thing U Mumba were riding on. Their raiders were inexperienced, defense was brittle and the overall team felt lighter on paper.
But U Mumba punched above their weight, defied all odds and made it to the semi-finals. And to do it with new faces and young players was in itself a great achievement. They could have done a bit better in the league stages. But nevertheless, U Mumba successfully met the expectations this time.
Here is a short review of their PKL Season 7:
Played: 24 | Won: 13 | Lost: 9 | Tie: 2 | Total: 72 - Lost in the semis
Total points scored: 785
Total points conceded: 732
Raid points: 438
Tackle points: 233
All-outs conceded: 27
Overall win percentage: 54.16%
#1 Rising raiders - Playing only his 2nd season in the Pro Kabaddi League, Abhishek Singh impressed one and all with his fabulous show. He picked up 163 points at a healthy average and also scored ten Super 10s.
In the absence of a well-known strike raider, Singh did very well to establish himself as U Mumba’s leading player.
This team also discovered a brilliant support raider in young Arjun Deshwal. He made vital contributions in close games and kept his team in the hunt.
#2 Steady defense - In Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal, U Mumba had two of the strongest corners in the tournament. While Atrachali’s ankle holds are the toughest to escape from, Narwal’s dashes can completely topple the opponent.
Their combination worked well for U Mumba as the duo constantly kept the opposition’s score under check. With 82 tackle points, the Iranian finished the season as the most successful defender. Using his optimism and vision, he led the team really well and should be proud of his efforts.
What did not work?
#1 Poor cover defenders - Surinder Singh wasn’t upto the mark this time. His impatience cost him dearly. More than half of his tackles were unsuccessful. His advanced tackles leaked quite a few points and that remains his biggest weakness.
Other players like Harendra Kumar, Young Chang Ko and R Subramanian could not step up at the cover position. U Mumba’s defense could have been much better if these players had better numbers to offer.
#2 Weak bench strength - U Mumba did not have great substitutes this season. Rohit Baliyan was close to average. MS Athul too could have brought much more to the team but he failed to do so. Dong Geon Lee was also tried as an extra raider but he couldn’t hold on to the opportunity.
So in short, U Mumba had major weak links this season, but their solid corners and impressive strike raiders managed to take their team into the playoffs.
Young Ajinkya Kapre was a big revelation for U Mumba this season. Even being under pressure, the raider took the 2nd semi-final by storm with his Super Raid that fetched 4 crucial points.
That raid brought U Mumba right back into the game but they could not grab the chance. Nevertheless, Kapre looked very good and it seems like he has the potential to go the distance. U Mumba must look to groom this special talent.
Published 04 Nov 2019, 22:59 IST