Catching a weak link in U Mumba chain

Having faced three consecutive home defeats, U Mumbai needs to pull up its socks to finish strong in the league.

U Mumba has a host of tough matches against Gujarat Fortune Giants on Tuesday, by a tie against the in-form Haryana Steelers and then Jaipur Pink Panthers.   -  PTI

Smarting from four consecutive losses in Vivo Pro Kabaddi season five, U Mumba faces a powerful rival when its confidence is low. The side is going through a rough patch and takes on Zone A topper Gujarat Fortune Giants (GFG), after having suffered three back-to-back home defeats at the NSCI indoor stadium.

Jaipur Pink Panthers, Puneri Paltans and Dabang Delhi tripped U Mumba on its home mat, with the latter squeezing through by one point to dilute the effect of a rousing performance from skipper Anup (11 raid points), leaving him with the taste of defeat when victory was in sight.

Shrikant Jadhav and Kashiling Adake (seven raid points each) also displayed confidence when ringed by defenders, only to see a creaking defence letting them down.

Anup is uncertain about the buttons to press and raise the catching work to PK level. “The raiding was quite okay, defence was loose. If we hadn’t made the mistakes in the last moments, we could have won the game,” he said, analyzing the loss at Delhi’s hands on Sunday night.

Two nights later, after a day of rest and introspection, the famous faces in the home squad will be challenged by the debutant GFG, hell-bent on destroying reputations created over four seasons.

U Mumba’s catching is something the team needs to work on, but the regulars are injured and impulsive youngster Surinder Singh only managed to make the captain’s task tougher. Raider Shabeer Bappu will probably be played in the remaining games after sitting out due to a back strain.

GFG, in contrast, comes armed with top-class tacklers in Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani, who have 10 matches under their belts this season and are hungry for more.

Coached by Manpreet Singh and Neer Gulia, the visitor has shown maturity on the mat and its defenders and raiders compliment each other. The day when raiders looked little weak, defenders rose to the occasion.

“Our confidence of winning away matches has grown. We are giants even outside our home. We beat U Mumba in Ahmedabad and will repeat the feat,” remarked captain Sukesh Hegde.

He also spoke about the teamwork within. “When I wasn’t doing well, Sachin (Tanwar) or Rohit (Gulia) did the job for us. In defence, when Fazel looked off colour on a particular day, Abozar, Parvesh (Bainswal), Sunil grabbed the opposition by ankle. We are clicking as a unit.”

If the home side can survive Gujarat’s charge on Tuesday night, spear-headed by the two Iranians and young raider Sachin, next in line is Haryana Steelers, another tough act with one loss in six matches.

Jaipur Pink Panthers last for U Mumba, before the caravan leaves NSCI and heads for Kolkata.