Interview: "Mohit Chillar's auction price was very low", admits Anup Kumar.
Anup Kumar has seen it all. Season after season, he’s watched key players across the league play musical chairs. While he continues to be the reliable face of a consistent U Mumba side.
He’s seen most teams lose their identity within a span of six months. The frequency with which players have switched sides in the Pro Kabaddi League has been nothing short of outlandish. But Kumar does admit, what he witnessed at the recent auctions, came as a surprise.
“According to me, Mohit should have gone for somewhere between Rs.60-70 lacs. I don’t know the reason behind his auction price. For Mohit, it was a very low price”.
The Haryana Steelers snapped up Anup’s former trusted aide, for just Rs 46.50 lakhs. Much less than the record bid Chillar commanded, merely a season back (Rs 53 lacs). Being the third best defender in Season 4, one would have expected a rate race to sign him up. Nothing of that sorts transpired.
Well earned rest for the talisman ahead of the new season
Come July 28, over the course of three months, Anup will have to travel to four more cities, compared to last time. Four more teams who will be intent on ensuring Kumar doesn’t outfox them. Even though he didn’t travel in the off season, Kumar did have time to cool off before the bright lights once again hover over him.
“I am not very fond of travelling. We had the Federation Cup in between but apart from that I only rested, I had the chance to spend some time with my family. I don’t play local tournaments”, he said.
U Mumba are scheduled to begin their preparatory camp from June 7th and Anup will be keen to prove that season 4 was merely an anomaly. They finished fifth – the first time they ended up outside the top two.
“The team is good but it’s quite different from the previous seasons. We need to practice on our defence and performing on the mat, that’s all that matters”.
“It’s a completely new team with new players so we aren’t especially going to focus on our defence. We will first practice to check what’s right and what’s wrong. Bhaskaran Sir is a very good coach, technically speaking. He will put together the right team”, he added.
The return of Shabeer Bapu
This upcoming season, Mumbai’s faithful will once again get to witness the prized duo of Anup Kumar and Shabeer Bapu, side by side. Shabeer plied his trade for Jaipur last time around but will be back this time round again to light up the NSCI stadium in Worli.
“Shabeer is a good player, he’s technically very sound. He also defends well. But we will use him as a raider, not a defender. We have enough defenders in the team”
Anup feels Haryana, Gujarat and Delhi have come out as the real winners in the auction apart from Mumbai. However, he didn’t want to tag anyone as favourites he feels, "no one really knows the players who will start for their respective teams”.
With games set to roll in thick and fast, Kumar had ample time to recuperate from last season’s hectic schedule during which he also lifted the World Cup. But in the village of Palra (his hometown), Kabaddi is an everyday scenario.
“I practised a little bit in my village. We have a local team here who play on the ground. Sometimes either in the morning or evening, I play with the kids out here. Real practice begins when the camp begins”, he signed off.