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As yet another season of the Pro Kabaddi League kicks off on Saturday, the season two champions, U Mumba, has grabbed eyeballs with their strategy prior to the season seven of the tournament.
Retention, auction and personnel changesThe team will be led by retained player Fazel Atrachali who was a part of U Mumba in the previous season. The Iranian defender had led the team to the play-off stages in the last edition of the PKL. Sandeep Narwal, who was the costliest buy of the franchise, having bought him for Rs 89 Lakhs will be Fazel’s deputy in the upcoming season. The franchise stuck with veteran players like Atrachali, Rajguru Subramanian, and Arjun Deshwal and retained the trio under the elite category. Before the auction in April, U Mumba retained young players like Surender Singh, Gaurav Kumar, and Mohit Baliyan. Iranian Gholamreza Mazandarani, who was U Mumba’s coach in 2018, will be replaced by Sanjeev Baliyan. Baliyan won the title for Patna Pirates in season three as their head coach.
Key playersAtrachali and Narwal will lead the defence, and Surender and Rajguru will aid the experienced duo with their skills. Atrachali will be an asset to the three-time finalists as he was the 3rd most successful defender in the previous season. The Star raider from last season, Sidharth Desai has not been retained by the franchise this season. In his absence, the onus will be on Baliyan and Dong Geon Lee to be the frontline raiders along with all-rounder Narwal.
2018 PerformanceU Mumba qualified for the playoffs as they finished 2nd on the points table in Zone A. They won 15 out of the 22 games in the group stages but were knocked out in the Eliminator by UP Yoddhas. They will be hoping to get their mojo back and make the finals for the fourth time in history and the first time since 2016.