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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Pro Kabaddi League 2019: In Siddharth Desai’s absence, defence remains key for U Mumba

Former world indoor 400-meter champion Kemi Adekoya has been banned for four years for doping in another drug case to hit Bahrain’s squad of elite African-born runners.

pro-kabaddi-league Updated: Jul 20, 2019 08:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Fazel Atrachali is a key defender for U Mumba.
Fazel Atrachali is a key defender for U Mumba.(Pro Kabaddi League)

U Mumba have been one of the the most consistent teams in the Pro Kabaddi League since its inception. The side has always relied on its defensive prowess, and they have managed to book a semis or a playoff berth in every season, except for in season 4 and season 5. Mumbai won the season 2 and made it into the finals of the first three seasons. Last season, with led by a new coach and a new captain in Fazel Atrachali, U Mumba finished second in Zone A with a total of 15 wins, with their defence once again living up the reputation. A 29 – 34 defeat in the Eliminator-1 to UP Yoddha ended their campaign as they failed to reach the final.

One of the star performers for Mumbai last year was Siddharth Desai who had a great debut season for them. As he moves to Telugu Titans, Mumbaiw will look towards Rohit Baliyan, Dong Geon Lee, Abhishek Singh and Athul MS to step up. None of those raiders combined had the raid point tally that Desai had last season. Rohit is the most experienced raider in the team (52 Matches). With none of the other raiders having played more than 25 PKL matches, much of the responsibility will fall on his shoulders.

READ | Siddharth Desai looks to replace Rahul Chaudhari as revamped Telugu Titans look to scale new heights

In PKL 6, he was U Mumba’s second best raider after Desai, finishing with 94 raid points, his best ever tally in a season. His previous best was 65 raid points in season 5. But the lack of a lead raider can haunt the side going into season 7.

Mumbai’s strength lies in their defensive setup as they have retained their core defenders, Fazel Atrachali and Surender Singh. The Iranian was instrumental last season and finished as the 3rd best Tackle Point scorer in PKL 6 with a total of 83 tackle points. Surender Singh was the 2nd best defender of U Mumba in PKL 6 with a total of 62 tackle points. He also had 97 assists, the most by any defender in PKL 6.

READ | With Rahul Chaudhari-Ajay Thakur combo, Tamil Thalaivas hope to find success

U Mumba have strengthened the defense by buying Sandeep Narwal (89.00 Lakhs) and he will replace the veteran defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan. He is the 3rd in the Most Tackle points scored with 254 tackle points and has also made the most number of Super Tackles with a total of 23 in PKL.

Squad: Fazel Atrachali, Rohit Baliyan, Abhishek Singh, Sandeep Narwal, Dong Geon Lee, Athul MS, Rajaguru Subramanian, Arjun Deshwal, Anil, Gaurav Kumar, Mohit Balyan, Surender Singh, Athul MS, Ajinkya Rohidas Kapre, Young Chang Ko, Abhishek Singh, Vinoth Kumar, Harsh Vardhan, Harendra Kumar

Coach: U Mumba have a new coach for PKL 7 as Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan replaces Gholamreza Mazandarani in the dugout. Baliyan previously led Patna Pirates to the title in the third season, and in the recent National Kabaddi Championship, guided Railways to the championship.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 21:38 IST

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