U Mumba is one of the most consistent sides in Pro Kabaddi, reaching three out of the six finals. Apart from the fourth and fifth seasons, when the team was undergoing a transition, they have managed to qualify for the playoffs in every season.
Winners in the second edition, U Mumba weren’t considered among favourites for the title last season with the team sporting a new captain and coach in form of Iranian duo Fazel Atrachali and Gholamreza Mazandarani. However, the combination of a sturdy defence along with the meteoric rise of Siddharth Desai were factors that made them a force to be reckoned with. In the end, though, U Mumba lost their way once star raider Desai was ruled out due to injury.
They finished second in Zone A with a total of 86 points behind Gujarat Fortunegiants before losing to UP Yoddhas in the Eliminator.
With Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan taking over as head coach, the Maharashtra-based side will look to replicate their highs from the last season with the core of the team very much intact.
Past record of U Mumba in Pro Kabaddi
|Season 4||Finished fifth, did not qualify for playoffs|
|Season 5||Finished fourth in Zone A, did not qualify for playoffs|
|Season 6||Lost to UP Yoddhas in Eliminator|
While U Mumba held on to their captain Atrachali, they lost star raider Desai to Telugu Titans raised a few eyebrows. Arjun Deshwal, Rajaguru Subramanian and Surender Singh were retained while they exercised the Final Bid Match card to bring back Abhishek Singh and Rohit Baliyan.
The acquisition of Sandeep Narwal, a match-winning all-rounder for a whopping sum of Rs 89 lakh was a smart addition while they roped in promising raiders Dong Geon Lee (Rs 25 lakhs) and Athul MS (Rs 20 lakhs) to make up for Desai’s absence.
U Mumba has formed a reputation as one of the best defences in the league. Iranian wall Atrachali and Surender were among the best cover-corner combinations last year and more of the same can be expected this time as well. By replacing veteran Dharmaraj Cheralathan with Sandeep Narwal, the have another excellent player for the right corner position.
Mumbai let go of Desai for a staggering sum of but they failed to sign any raider who is worth matching his calibre. The responsibility of leading the raiding department will now fall on Rohit Bailyan and despite all the experience he has, he has a very poor raid point average.
Dong Geon Lee, Abhishek Singh and Athul MS are other raiders in the squad but they are relatively inexperienced and have played less than 30 matches in their careers – none of them managing to score 100 points in a single season.
Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan replaces Mazandarani at the helm and knows what it takes to win a title, having led Patna Pirates to glory in the third edition. At this year’s National Kabaddi Championship, he guided Railways to the title. Baliyan will be supported by Upendra Kumar, who has been retained from last season by the club management
Player to watch out for: Surender Singh
One of the underrated players in the league, Surender is the backbone of the U Mumba defence. He has just featured in two seasons so far but has emerged as one of the best defenders alongside Atrachali. His partnership with the U Mumba captain was the second-best combination last season only behind Gujarat Fortunegiants’ duo of Parvesh Bhainsawal and Sunil Kumar. Apart from that, Surender also provided the most number of assists (97).
Raiders: Rohit Baliyan, Dong Geon Lee, Arjun Deshwal, Abhishek Singh, Athul MS, Gaurav Kumar, Navneet, and Vinoth Kumar
All-rounders: Sandeep Narwal, Mohit Baliyan, and Ajinkya Rohidas Kapre
Defenders: Fazel Atrachali, Rajaguru Subramanian, Surender Singh, Harsh Vardhan, Anil, Harendra Kumar, and Young Chang Ko