Fazel Atrachali will be the central figure in the defence.
U Mumba have unearthed many youngsters in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) ever since ‘Sultan’ Fazel Atrachali took over the captaincy in season 6. The team has groomed players like Siddharth Desai, Abhishek Singh and Arjun Deshwal and has managed to punch above their weight in the past. The upcoming season will be no different for the season 2 champions.
After signing only one player in the first two days of the auction, U Mumba got busy on the third day and bought a majority of players from the Category B & C list. The young raiders in the squad will be raring to deliver on the big stage. The defence has several new names and it will be interesting to see what they have in store for their fans in season 8.
On that note, let’s take an in-depth look at the U Mumba squad for season 8 of the Pro Kabaddi League.
The dependable raiding duo of Abhishek and Ajith
U Mumba retained their star raider Abhishek Singh ahead of the auction. He led the offence with his brilliant raids, scoring 162 raid points and 10 Super-10s last season. Abhishek will be expected to repeat the same when he takes the mat as a lead raider for the team this season.
The team spent ₹25 lakh for V. Ajith Kumar, who was a find for Tamil Thalaivas in Season 7. The agile raider notched up 121 raid points and recorded 4 Super-10s on debut, with his highest score being 18 points in a match. Ajith can act as a perfect foil for Abhishek when the season kicks off in December.
With these two skilled raiders who can deliver under crunch situations, U Mumba will bank upon the Abhishek-Ajith duo to score consistently and win matches for the side. Other recruits like Mohsen Maghsoudlou, Navneet and Ajinkya Kapre will also bolster the team’s offence in the upcoming season.
Fazel Atrachali leading the pack
U Mumba retained their captain Fazel Atrachali as an Elite Retained Player (ERP) ahead of the season 8 player auction. The Iranian has been a dominant force on the mat with his breath-taking waist & ankle holds, making him the only foreign defender to achieve more than 300 tackle points in the history of the league. Fazel has been in sublime touch over the past two seasons, amassing more than 80 tackle points consecutively. Fazel will also mentor the up-and-coming youngsters and would want to turn them into match-winners.
Cover defenders like Ashish Sangwan, Ajeet, Sunil Siddhgavali and Harendra Kumar join the ‘Sultan’ in the defence, adding more skills to the side. Ashish Sangwan, who has played 83 matches and scored 157 points for Bengaluru Bulls, will be seen in a different jersey for the first time in his career. The rest of the defenders will have a crucial role to play as they will rally around Fazel Atrachali – the captain at the helm. Former UP Yoddha & Gujarat Giants defender Pankaj Rawal will likely be a substitutional left corner.
Youngsters set to make a name for themselves
U Mumba have signed two talented names for the right corner position – Rinku Sharma and Rahul Rawal. Chandigarh-based Rinku Sharma, who is known for his lethal ankle holds and dives, made an impactful statement in the 67th and 68th Senior National Kabaddi Championships as the top defender for his state. The 20-year-old was U Mumba’s most expensive purchase at this year’s auction at ₹32 lakh. Meanwhile, Rahul Rawal – a two-time gold medalist for Sports Authority of India (SAI) in the Junior Nationals – is also a reliable option for the team in their defence.
Amongst U Mumba’s raiders, Shivam Thakur could turn out to be a find for the franchise, alongside Kamlesh, Jashandeep Singh and Rahul Rana. They are exciting young signings that will add immense depth to the offence. These raiders will be looking forward to honing their skills when they take on the mat in season 8.