U Mumba is one of the most admired teams in the Pro Kabaddi League, having registered monumental performances in the past seven editions of the tournament. They were the first team to qualify for three straight finals from Season 1 to Season 3, and also won the championship in the second edition under the captaincy of the legendary Anuj Kumar.
Over the years, U Mumba have boasted of some big players like Anup Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Mohit Chhillar, and many more, who took the team to greater heights. When Fazel Atrachali took over the captaincy in the sixth season, U Mumba gave a chance to several new kabaddi players.
Here, we take a look at three players whom U Mumba shouldn't have released in the past.
#3 Shrikant Jadhav
Shrikant Jadhav was formerly a part of Jaipur Pink Panthers (Season 2) and Bengal Warriors (Season 3 and 4), but didn't get a chance to make his mark due to his injury. However, U Mumba snapped up Jadhav in the fifth edition, where he made his spectacular outing under the captaincy of Anup Kumar.
Jadhav scored 86 raid points with two Super-10s to his name, becoming the third-highest scorer of the Mumbai-based franchise in that edition. He was Anup's go-to raider in crucial situations, which benefited from his consistent raiding style, and made him a better performer in the next two seasons.
After joining UP Yoddha in the sixth season, Shrikant Jadhav has been on the rise as the Maharashtra-born raider snapped 141 raid points with 5 Super-10s to his name. He had the joint-highest do-or-die raid points (43) along with Rahul Chaudhari in that edition. Jadhav became UP's highest scorer with 148 raid points in the seventh season, playing a vital role in leading the side to the playoffs on both occasions.
On the other hand, U Mumba has lacked a support raider whom they can confidently bank upon. Jadhav has proven to be a man for all occasions, whether it be leading the pack upfront or raiding in the do-or-die raids as a third raider. U Mumba could regret missing him out in the recent seasons.
#2 Surjeet Singh
Surjeet Singh is known for his breath-taking dashes and blocks from the right cover position. A spectacular cover defender, Surjeet made his debut with Puneri Paltan in Season 3 and later moved on to U Mumba in the fourth season.
Surjeet led the tackles with a stronghold, and was U Mumba's highest scorer in the defense with 37 tackle points, including two High-5s. Surjeet emerged as a leader in the pack that had lost its core in Surender Nada, Mohit Chhillar, and Vishal Mane. However, U Mumba didn't retain Surjeet, and also didn't buy him in Season 5 auctions.
Appointed as the skipper of his new team Bengal Warriors, Surjeet wreaked havoc on the mat, scoring 76 tackle points at an average of 3 in the fifth season. He had 9 High-5s to his name, the most by any defender in a single PKL season. He continued his brilliance in Season 6 with 54 tackle points, and also was the most successful cover defender of Season 7 with 63 tackle points, this time with the Puneri Paltan.
However, U Mumba has been a hit or miss side in its cover defense since then. While Surinder Singh has been an emerging player for the team, his impatient tackles have also costed them severely. Perhaps, the presence of a standout defender like Surjeet Singh would have brought wonders if U Mumba had kept him for the next seasons.
#1 Siddharth Desai
Siddharth Desai was the find for U Mumba in Season 6, scoring 15 raid points in his debut match against Puneri Paltan. The Maharashtra-born raider was sold for ₹36 lakhs, and went on to score 50 raid points in just four outings, becoming the fastest player to reach the mark in history. He made an impact as a phenomenal performer right from the start.
Siddharth grabbed the 'Best Debutant' award, scoring 218 raid points at an average of 10.38 per game. He successfully took on the mightiest of defensive line-ups with his running hand touches and brutal strength, with ten super raids and 12 Super-10s to his name. His heroics in raiding single-handedly took U Mumba to greater heights, securing them a playoffs spot with ease.
However, U Mumba couldn't negotiate with Siddharth Desai on long terms, and his name got listed in the auction list for the next season. He got snapped by a whopping ₹1.45 crores by the Telugu Titans, as U Mumba didn't have enough budget to retain him using the FBM card.
Despite a rough start to his campaign in Season 7, Siddharth once again proved his value and scored 217 raid points consistently at an average of 9.86 with ten Super-10s. As U Mumba was notably a defense-heavy side, their offense did perform but lacked consistency somewhere down the middle.
As the competition gets tough in the days to come, U Mumba should have groomed this lanky raider as leaving a quality player as Siddharth Desai could be hurtful for them ahead.