U Mumba’s brilliant home record in Pro Kabaddi League – will it continue or will it fall?
U Mumba have been the most steady and consistent team in the history of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), a tournament that has put Kabaddi among the list of most popular sports in India in recent times. They are the most successful team of PKL, having been the runners up of seasons 1 and 3 and the Champions of season 2.
A lot of reasons could be pointed out for their success, some of them being the inspiring leadership of their Captain Anup Kumar and the coordination and stability of the team itself being the main factors. But, unsurprisingly, their brilliant home record can also be taken into consideration as one of the components for their outstanding show in the league, when we talk about their triumphant run.
Playing at home, in front of their fans, is clearly something that the Mumbai players enjoy, and just like Castrol Activ Actibonds, who cling on to the engine to provide continuous protection, the U Mumba defence fueled their attack, with the raiders feeding off the protection and support provided by the defenders.
The team plays its home matches at DOME@NSCI SVP Stadium, Mumbai. The support and love of their fans who turn up for all of their home matches gives them an immense morale boost, which has seen them remain unbeaten at home in the first three seasons of the league.
The team has only lost twice at home so far, once being in the finals of the inaugural season of PKL and the second time being their recent loss to the Puneri Paltan (41-19), who are playing their home matches in Mumbai this time around. Overall, the team has played 16 matches in the group stages in Mumbai, winning an unmatched 14 of them, tying one and losing one.
In Season 1, they played 4 matches at home, winning 3 of them quite convincingly, and tying one against Telugu Titans. They were unbeaten in Seasons 2 and 3 with a perfect record of 8 victories in 8 matches. Season 4 saw them face their first loss at home, though it wasn’t a home match for them, after they won the first match against Jaipur Pink Panthers (36-34), which was a nail biter. Their phenomenal performance at home gives them a winning percentage of 87.5, the best out of all the eight franchises in PKL.
The most important reason for their stupendous display can be attributed to their ironclad defence and the coordination between their players. Their success in the first three seasons was mainly because of the defenders, Mohit Chhillar, Surender Nada, Fazel Atrachali and Vishal Mane, who took the responsibility of stopping raiders from scoring points very seriously and made life very difficult for the opposition.
Their powerful dashes, ankle holds and thigh holds gave many victories to their team in the past. However, with their star defenders missing this season, the mantle of defensive solidity would fall on Surjeet and Jeeva Kumar, two of the best covers of Season 3.
Their offense is also one of the best in the league, thanks to the presence of experienced and battle-hardened Anup Kumar and the upcoming Rishank Devadiga, the best raider of the previous season in their ranks. Anup is unarguably the most consistent and brilliant raider the team has, as he has finished 1st, 3rd and 7th in the list of top raiders in the previous seasons of the league. Rishank had an amazing Season 3 as he was the most successful raider.
The two of them have good support in the form of Surendra Singh and star all-rounder Rakesh Kumar this season, and their attacking line-up will be one of the most formidable in the league. Defenders of other franchises have to fight tooth and nail to stop these talented and savvy players from scoring raid points, which they were doing with ease in the past.
U Mumba’s unparalleled coordination and team work has been central to their success in the previous three seasons, with each and every player of the team aware of his position and importance in the team quite well.
The team studies its opponent thoroughly, which gives the players a minuscule margin of error when they take on the field. The team would be hoping to continue performing the way they did in previous seasons and give their all to become two-time Champions, and a great display in Mumbai would influence their success very much.
Mohit Chhillar, Surender Nada, Fazel Atrachali and Vishal Mane are not with the team anymore and it is a huge blow to their aspirations of dominating their opposition and becoming the first team to win two editions of the Pro Kabaddi League.
With all the pressure now on Rakesh Kumar, Surjeet Kumar and Jeeva Kumar to deliver, it is upto U Mumba to show that their home mat is still a fortress and that the loss of key players isn’t going to change their fortunes in the league.
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