PKL 2018 | Touted as early favourites, U Mumba still have long way to go

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PKL

PKL 2018 | Touted as early favourites, U Mumba still have long way to go

With a strong defensive unit and their new raiding star in the form of Siddharth Desai, U Mumba looks to be a title contender in the ongoing season of PKL. But, the team has a few issues to address sooner than later before going for the upcoming games in the tournament to live up the expectation.

U Mumba started their campaign in the sixth season of the PKL with a tie against Puneri Paltan on the very first day of the tournament and after that, they have been in a great form in this season so far. The U Mumba has lost just the one game and that is against the same team in Pune’s home leg which was a tight encounter but Puneri Paltan had the last laugh in that game by winning it 33-32. No other team in the tournament has been able to beat U Mumba so far and from eight games, they have six wins, one tie and one loss to their name. U Mumba is second on the Zone A points table behind Puneri Paltan who have played an additional five matches. These stats prove that how strong a team is U Mumba and why they are considered as title favourites this season. But, they have some loopholes in both the departments. Despite having a raider like Siddharth Desai, who has got 97 raid points from only seven games, their team lacks another person who can step up in his absence and they have a strong defensive which has faltered on fewer occasions in the league which shows that they still have a long way to go in the league. 

Let’s talk about their raiders first. U Mumba went on to the mat without Desai in the previous game against Puneri Paltan and they lacked the services of Rohit Baliyan as well. Desai has been a revelation in the tournament so far and with 97 points from seven games, he is in the second position of the list of the Top Raiders in PKL. On the other hand, Rohit has 34 raid points to his name in the league so far. Both of them were not a part of the team in the last game and U Mumba’s raiding unit looked average as they managed to collect only 11 raid points in the entire game and it was their defence that stepped up to the occasion to ensure a win against their derby rivals. They missed both their raiders badly as Abhishek Singh and Darshan Kadian had to struggle to gather points in the raids and the case for all-rounder Vinod Kumar was no different. 

U Mumba side has one of the best defensive units in the league with world’s best left-corner and experienced right-corner in their team. Fazel Atrachali and Dharmaraj Cheralathan have together made an effective combination to trouble any side with their powerful tackles. With Surender Singh at the cover position, they have another player who can contribute with the tackle points. Although they collected 14 tackle points in the game which is more than the points that they got in raids, they didn’t look convincing. Even an experienced player like Fazel committed a few errors but was lucky to get away with that because of his power and skills. An example of it was in the previous game against Pune when Monu was tackled by an ankle hold by the Iranian. Fazel went for an ankle hold ahead of the baulk line and after falling on the mat the raider failed to get past the mid-line only by a whisker. It was too risky a tackle to be attempted by him and there was no sign of any support from the right cover or corner either. In another such tackle, four minutes later, Fazel took down Deepak Dahiya and this time it was well ahead of the baulk line but again without proper support from others. It was only after the raider was down on the mat. Deepak could have easily escaped that attempted had he backtracked properly but instead of that, he fell prey by getting wrong-footed. The Mumbai skipper ended with four points from the game out of which two were unnecessary as per the kind of tackles and the scenario there.   

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Mumbai also failed in reading the game as well. Somewhere down the line, they lacked game awareness which made it a little difficult to get to the winning mark easily. Especially, their strategies during the Do or Die raids and Super Tackle opportunities of Puneri Paltan in the second half. In the second 20, both the teams were playing on Do or Die raids and there was a point in the game where Pune had only three defenders on the mat and that is the reason, they had the Super Tackle opportunity as well. Mumba, on the other hand, had five men on the mat and they could have easily sacrificed a point prior to the Do or Die raid so that Pune would  have an extra man on the mat keeping Super Tackle opportunity out of the equation and an unsuccessful raid could have altered the Do or Die raid as well. There Mumba miscalculated according to the match situation and after an empty raid each by both the teams, Abhishek went for a Do or Die raid for U Mumba. There came the point where U Mumba got lucky to get a couple of points rather than conceding to in a Super Tackle opportunity. Sandeep Narwal went to dash the raider out from the right corner and he was almost successful on that occasion. But, Abhishek was quick enough to react and his fingers went past the mid-line while he was still in the court. Ravi Kumar was trying to hold his legs which went in Mumba’s favour as that helped the raider from not going off the mat. Puneri Paltan reviewed that decision which eventually went against them and that made a four-point difference. 

Sandeep’s lack of patience in the Pune defence was helpful for U Mumba as well. During a few Do or Die raids with Super Tackle opportunities, the right-corner went for unnecessary attempts giving away easy points to U Mumba which proved vital in the end. One such example of that is the raid in the ninth minute of the first half where Abhishek went in for a Do or Die raid with two of Pune’s best defenders Girish Ernak and Sandeep Narwal on the mat. Sandeep went for an unnecessary attempt where he could have easily wasted time and made the raider to commit a mistake as he has the urgency to collect a point. Sandeep did the blunder there and tried to block him where the raider escaped that and returned with an easy point. 

Pune’ over-dependence on their star raider Nitin Tomar is another reason why Mumba got away after making mistakes during the game. Pune missed Tomar big time during the match as Deepak Dahiya and GB More wasn’t that effective and so was the case with Rajesh Mondal and young Akshay Jadhav. The Pune team could manage only seven raid points in the entire game which, in all probability, wouldn’t have happened with Tomar on the mat. Pune’s loss was Mumba’s gain in this case otherwise, things would have been different and results could have gone in Pune’s favour. 

The tags of favourite is still there with the U Mumba side but with teams like Telugu Titans and Bengal Warriors doing well in both the departments and Bengaluru Bulls looking strong with their raiding unit, it remains a tough challenge for U Mumba to improve match by match and strengthen their raiding unit while they need to work properly with the huge resources they possess in their defence. Gholamreza Mahmoud Mazandarani goes ahead with Iranian the style of defence, where one goes for a tackle and after being certain, others jump in for support, and his inputs will be beneficial for them to rectify the errors committed by their defence to finish ahead of the other teams in their zone to get an easy entry into the play-offs.  Learning from one’s own mistakes is a key path to success and Mumba should understand this quick to remain ahead of other teams in the league. 

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