U Mumba's Fazel Atrachali: If I don't go for the tackle, then I am not Fazel

PKL 8: Fazel Atrachali had a few quiet games before returning to his usual aggressive self in defence in U Mumba's 37-28 win against Jaipur Pink Panthers on Thursday.

Fazel Atrachali

U Mumba captain makes a strong tackle to block Jaipur Pink Panthers' skipper Deepak Niwas Hooda during their Pro Kabaddi League (PKL 8) match on Thursday.   -  PKL

U Mumba cruised to a 37-28 win over Jaipur Pink Panthers in a Pro Kabaddi League match in Bengaluru on Thursday. While raiders Abhishek Singh and V Ajith Kumar starrred with Super 10s to their names, the bigger takeaway for fans and opponents alike was U Mumba skipper Fazel Atrachali returning to the aggressive defending tactics that one has now come to expect from the Iranian.

Atrachali (three tackle points, 50 per cent efficiency) had a quiet few games before Thursday's fixture, choosing to play cautiously and focusing on his duties as the leader of the pack.

"In the other match at the start of the season, we had a young team so my responsibility was to get control of the team because start of the season is more important and we needed to figure out our combination. Now we have good combinations and so now I am going for tackles," he told Sportstar after the win against the Panthers.

As it happened: Pro Kabaddi PKL 8 Highlights: Ajith Kumar, Abhishek shine with Super 10s as U Mumba eases past Jaipur Pink Panthers

" I am the '1' player of the team so first I play for the team and then myself. We have a good time, so I am more free and going for the tackle. I changed my practice and my plan and decided to go more the tackles. If I don't go for the tackle, then I am not Fazel," he added.

It was by no means an easy task for Atrachali and his boys. Despite Jaipur putting in an underwhelming raiding performance on the whole, Arjun Deshwal (14 points), a former U Mumba player, gave them enough work through the course of the match.

 

When asked about their plans for Deshwal, Atrachali said, "We are professional players, one season we're in one team, next season we'll be in another. Arjun Deshwal was with us last season. I know him very well. If the match went very close, we had a plan to tackle him. We had a lead of 10 points, so we were okay with Arjun taking two to three bonus points also. He played very well in his previous games but we had good control of Arjun and the match."

As captain, Atrachali has had a load taken off his shoulders thanks to V Ajith Kumar (11 points). The youngster from Tami Nadu has shouldered raiding responsibilities almost singlehandedly when the team's lead raider Abhishek Singh (10 points) has underperformed.

"Ajith is a very fast player. He can manage a super 10 in every match if you allow him, but we have Abhishek Singh as well so I send him to raid in moderation. Because we have two raiders, we have to balance the two. He's a very good player and I know he is going to shine for U Mumba during this season," Atrachali said of the Ajith, who is featuring in his second season of the league.

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The youngster picked up an injury in the starting five minutes of the game and seemed to be in a lot of pain, but continued to make valuable contributions to his side.

"Ajith has been playing well in the last two games. He picked up an injury early but we saw how he was able to keep picking up points. We told him we need him in the game and he played for us," U Mumba coach Rajaguru Subramanian said. More details on Ajith's injury are awaited.

Meanwhile, Abhishek himself put in an improved performance, something Subramanian says the team worked on ahead of the game.

"Abhishek's performances went down in the last two games. We saw the video of our game against Jaipur and we sat down to analyse his mistakes. We suggested he play a little fast, to employ hand touch if there are 2-4 raiders on the mat," he added.

U Mumba's all-round performance saw the team jump from eighth place to third on the PKL points table with 14 points from four games.

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