Defending Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) champions U Mumba enjoyed a splendid second season last year. The PKL side not only became the champions but also enjoyed a too-good-to-be-true winning run in the league phase, outclassing every single side out to challenge them.
Retaining the title is the primary aim for everyone in U Mumba, as Pro Kabaddi League 2016 knocks on the door. The defending champions take on Telugu Titans in the opening game of the third season at Vishakapatnam in what will be an edge-of-the-seat affair.
Shabeer Bapu, Rishank Devadiga, Anup Kumar, and Mohit Chhillar were the superstars in the U Mumba roster, and coach E Bhaskaran has said the core of the team will remain intact this time.
"This year, we are completely focused on defending the title," Bhaskaran was quoted by PTI as saying. "We have been a very close-knit unit and that bond clearly reflects in the way we play.
"We have faith in our players which is why we decided not to change the team. We've only added Rakesh [Kumar] which, we believe, will make the team stronger. In terms of training, we have focused a lot on conventional and unconventional training methods because, ultimately, it is more important to maintain your position at the top than getting to the top," Bhaskaran, one of the most successful coaches of the Indian kabaddi team, added.
For star raider Devadiga, taking forward their brilliant pre-season performance to the main season remains the primary ambition. "The pre-season preparations were very good. We had a fortnight-long preparatory camp at Cheruvathur in the Kasargod district of Kerala last month, and recently one here in Mumbai.
"We have been practising continuously day and night, so we are ready for the new season." the 23-year-old told The Hindu.
The Best Raider of last year's final between U Mumba and Bengaluru Bulls, Shabeer Bapu, is keen on taking his performance a level higher this time. "Since last year, I have worked a lot on my fitness to ensure I contribute towards every match and ultimately help us defend the title. The team, coaches and support staff are working tirelessly to ensure a repeat of Season 2," the 29-year-old said.
U Mumba have also signed a two-year partnership with sports brand Adidas, and will be sporting a new orange jersey from this season.