Patna: U Mumba will be looking to continue their winning momentum after notching three consecutive wins in the absence of their four key men in the team. With gritty and tough wins against Bengaluru Bulls and Puneri Paltan, the U Mumba of Season 2 was back on the mat as they demolished Bengal Warriors to close out the first half of Season 3 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi. Their next match might see them revert to their tried and tested combination as they come up against Patna Pirates at the Pataliputra Sports Complex on Friday.
Many termed the participation of captain Anup Kumar, Mohit Chhillar, Surender Nada and Vishal Mane in the South Asian Games as something that will derail the title defending campaign of the Mumbai side. Coach Bhaskaran admits that it was a prevalent feeling in the camp as well.
"We were wondering how well we would be able to close out the matches with these players away on national duty during this time. But the way the players here have responded to the pressure and expectations has been brilliant. Our win against Bengaluru Bulls was close but we deserved to win against Puneri Paltan. Those victories gave us confidence to put our best performance forward for the match against Bengal Warriors."
Questions will be raised in terms of the starting seven against the Pirates with Fazel Atrachali shining in the absence of Surender Nada. Rishank Devadiga has taken the reins of attack with 38 points to his name in 7 matches including a best of 9 points in the win against Bengal Warriors. Rakesh Kumar has also led the team in fine fettle, standing in for regular captain Anup Kumar. Jeeva Kumar has brought balance to the team by playing as a right and left cover, a position that is usually occupied by Vishal Mane. Coach Bhaskaran will have his work cut out for him to field his best side against a team that has remained unbeaten in the league so far.
"This period has brought out the best in our players, especially Rishank and Jeeva Kumar. Rishank has been very aggressive and his footwork has been good. This will be key when he has to face the Patna defence on Friday. Jeeva held the defence together very well and was under pressure to handle the cover defence which he dealt with admirably."
While the news of the four players returning will boost morale in the U Mumba camp, the defending champions will have to deal with the likes of raiders Pardeep Narwal, Sandeep Narwal and Rohit Kumar if they wish to push for a place in the knockout stages.