U Mumba have consistently been the best team in Pro Kabaddi. They have reached the finals of all the 3 editions of Pro Kabaddi and lost out very narrowly twice and won it once. The key to their success was their stellar defense and consistency in personnel and the leadership of Anup Kumar. For this season, U Mumba have lost their entire defense and their team has changed quite a lot. They have retained their talisman Anup Kumar though and they will be hoping his leadership quality on the field and the coach Bhaskaran’s ability to get the max out of his team will ease them through the transition period and also bring some on field success. Let’s have a look at what the coach has in his arsenal to work with.
Raid Points by Mumbai Raiders
Mumba have retained the core of their raiding unit. They have lost the influential Shabeer Bappu. But, Shabeer Bappu was pretty mediocre over the last two season owing to injury problems. They had replaced Shabeer Bappu last season itself with Rakesh Kumar. So, his loss will not hurt U Mumba as much as few people will make you believe.
The newer recruits in the raiding department are also of high quality. Surendra Singh is an interesting addition. Anup Kumar is generally called the Bonus ka Badshah because of the large number of bonus points he accrues over a season. But, Surendra Singh was better than Anup Kumar at getting Bonus Points. A huge 39% of his points are from Bonus compared to Anup Kumar, who got around 16% of his points from bonus. So, Anup Kumar has got a good ally to raid with and you can expect U Mumba to get a lot of Bonus Points. Gurvinder is also a interesting Raider. He has good stats but has been constantly overlooked over the last 3 seasons at Patna Pirates. He may also do better if he gets more opportunities at Mumba.
There is not a lot of info about the services players who have joined the squads this time. But, U Mumba got a raider called Vikash Kumar who is listed as a raider. A bit of digging online led me to find out that he won the Asian Games gold in 2006 and had Rakesh Kumar as a teammate. Well, one thing for sure is that he is a veteran. Does he have the legs to make any impact this time? We will have to wait and watch.
Success Rate of Mumba’s Raiders
Defense is where U Mumba are the most changed. They got Jeeva Kumar back in the auction. It was a long and hard battle and they would be happy they could retain him. But, they lost 3 other mainstays from their defense. Mohit Chillar at Right Corner, Vishal Mane at Right Cover and Surender Nada at Left Corner. Let’s have a look and see what they have now.
Mumba are famous for their collective strength in defense. And their signings show that they have gone ahead for more of the same. Their raiders are good contributors in defense too as can be seen with the high success rate of all the raiders in their team. If you also add the transformation of Rakesh Kumar from a raider to a right Corner/Cover defender and his surprisingly good performance there, you would say they are well stocked. Lets have a deeper look at their defense position wise. We wont look at left cover as they have it sorted with Jeeva Kumar.
Manoj Dhull is their only recognized right corner. But, Rakesh Kumar excelled there last season and will be expected to do the same this time. Manoj Dhull has interesting stats and they show he is a pretty good defender. But, he hasn’t played well enough consistently and has injury problems which hopefully is in the past. Mumba will definitely start with Rakesh Kumar at Right Corner. But, both are nowhere as good as Mohit Chillar who they lost in the auctions. So this may be their weak point and the area where teams will look to hurt them.
If their Right Corner is weak, their Right Cover position has been covered very well. They were dealt a lucky hand by getting Surjeet. He is by a long distance the best in India at this position. He was at his intimidating best last season for Puneri and he is an upgrade on the departed Vishal Mane. They also have a decent backup with Vikas Kale.
For left corner to replace Surender Nada, they have signed Sunil Kumar from Patna Pirates. He was a mainstay of the title winning team of Patna Pirates. But, he has a tendency to make some rash tackles. That is indicated by his pretty low success rate of 43%. They dont have a decent backup either for this position. This may also be a weak points for U Mumba.
U Mumba have a very strong raiding unit as usual but dont have the same defense like usual. The challenge is in getting the corners to fire. And they have the cover defenders to help the corners excel. If their corners click, then another finals may be on the cards.