Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League 2016: SWOT Analysis of U Mumba
A look at U Mumba's squad ahead of Season 4 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi.
Star Sports Pro Kabaddi's Mumbai-based franchise U Mumba has been, by far, the most consistent team in the tournament's history. Having ended up on the wrong side of a 31-28 scoreline in the final of season 3, U Mumba will look to avenge that loss when the new season gets underway from 25th June. With the tournament set to be held twice in a year, the three-time finalists will be aiming to reclaim the crown they won this time last year.
Three seasons of the tournament have been played and in order to make the upcoming editions more competitive, the organizers had a trick up their sleeve. All the players bar 2 from each team went in the pool as the teams went up against each other to secure the services for the top talents.
Having not changed their squad much in the previous editions, Anup Kumar's side bears a completely new look, this time around. Coach Bhaskaran Edachery was quoted saying he is happy with his squad post the auction, but we'll have to wait and watch how the new look team gels in the upcoming season.
In the meantime, let's take a look at their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats so we have a better idea of how the Mumboys will perform this season:
Mumba's pillar – Anup Kumar: U Mumba's pillar has always been their captain Anup Kumar and the team management would have had no issues in picking him as 1 of the two retained players. The 32-year-old has led the team admirably in each of the three seasons, guiding them to the finals on each occasion. With the same coach as well as the captain, U Mumba's spine is the same as it has been and that holds them in good stead.
Defensive Rock – Surjeet: One of U Mumba's biggest strengths the last 3 seasons has been their solid defenders in the form of Mohit Chhillar, Fazel Atrachali, Vishal Mane, who will now represent other teams in the tournament. However, if one man could replace the outgoing talent, it is former Puneri Paltan star Surjeet! The right corner defender, in his first season, was Paltan's star and he even finished as one of the top 3 defenders of Season 3 while he also had the most tackles per match. In Surjeet, U Mumba have one of the best defensive players in the game currently.
A threadbare bench: One of the reasons why U Mumba have been so successful has been the countless talented players they had waiting on the bench to replace the first 7. The seamless transition that has worked so well for them before may not be seen this season as their squad, apart from the starting 7, seems weak as compared to previous seasons. They will have to look hard and coach Bhaskaran E. will have to work his magic in order to find new Bhupender Singhs and Fazel Atrachalis.
Over-reliance on Anup and Rishank: Post the auction, the U Mumba raiding department has been left depleted and the fans, as well as the team will have to look up to Anup Kumar and Rishank Devadiga to lead the team once again. The duo has performed well so far, but when they get out or are injured, it will be up to Gurvinder Singh and Rakesh Kumar to perform. The former didn't get much of a look-in at Patna Pirates last season due to the performance of Pardeep Narwal and Rohit Kumar. The latter, on the other hand, has been on a downward slide in his career and a transition as an all-rounder has seen him concentrate more on defence, which has seen his raiding falter.
Comeback from another final disappointment: The last time U Mumba lost in the final of Pro Kabaddi was in Season 1 where Jaipur Pink Panthers relegated them to the runner up spot. However, they bounced back like the true champions they are to claim the title in season 2. In the last season, they tasted defeat at the hands of Patna Pirates and they will be eager to win back their title.
Gurvinder Singh/Surendra Singh's time to shine?: As discussed before, apart from Anup Kumar and Rishank Devadiga, U Mumba's raiding department has not been exposed before. However, in Gurvinder Singh and Surendra Singh, they have two players who could surprise a lot of the fans. The duo didn't get a lot of chances with their previous star-studded teams, but a raider's spot is free in the U Mumba playing 7 and it is a brilliant chance for the duo to make their case for that spot.
Failing to qualify for the knockouts: U Mumba's players that got them so much success in the previous seasons have now moved to pastures anew. With a completely new squad, for the first time ever, a semi-final spot for this team is doubtful. Anup Kumar's team has always made the finals, but this time, it will be considered a surprise if they can reach that stage.
Defensive instability: A good defensive outfit is crucial to winning titles and after the departure of Mohit Chhillar, Surender Nada, Fazel Atrachali and Vishal Mane, their defence consists of mostly newbies. The signing of Surjeet shows promise but apart from him, none of the other defenders evoke confidence. Rakesh Kumar's transition into becoming a defender makes him susceptible to errors while Jeeva Kumar can be rash at times.
It remains to be seen how the new-look U Mumba play on the kabaddi mat, but an analysis of the squad does not bode well for the team led by the Indian national team captain. Last season's finalists will have to dig deep to make it to the semis, let alone repeat last season's result.