U Mumba came just inches close in their quest last year to win the Pro Kabaddi League title, but they faced the so-near-yet-so-far luck as they lost to eventual champions Jaipur Pink Panthers.
A year on, they did muster the courage to get back up, and they did so, with some impact. The highlight of the Pro Kabaddi League 2015 has been the performances of U Mumba.
Including their semi-final win against Patna Pirates, the Mumbai side have a total of 13 wins from 15 games in the lucrative kabaddi league this year. And their opponents, Bengaluru Bulls, know exactly how tough a competition they are going in to on Sunday.
The Bulls mustered all their determination and strength to stop a strong Telugu Titans side in their semi-final game on Friday, but they might need something more to stop the hosts at the NSCI Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
The Bangalore side won via just a point's margin, but that was a hard fight put up by the Southern Indian side. Manjeet Chhillar, Dharmaraj Cheralathan, as well as Ajay Thakur remained the terrific trio for the Bulls as they stopped a late resurgence from the Titans in their semi-final game, to progress to the final this year.
The potential of the three is immense, but the big question seems to be whether star defender Dharmaraj – who is also the oldest defender in the competition – will be able to stop either a fiery Shabeer Bapu or a determined Anup Kumar.
Mumbai skipper Anup has been nothing short of an inspirational figure for his side this season. Just like in the regular league matches this year, the Arjuna awardee stepped up in the semi-final game as well, to guide his side to the massive 35-18 victory against Patna Pirates.
Star raider Shabeer also stepped up his game on the day, and defender Surender Bapu clinched a personal best for a defender in a match as decisive as the semi-final, and that says a lot about the determination of the team.
The presence of Jeeva Kumar and Mohit Chhillar as well as Vishal Mane also adds the star power to the Mumbai defence, and so do raiders like Rishank Devadiga or a young gun like Bhupinder Singh.
Mumbai do look the far-better side on paper, but games are not won on paper, and U Mumba star Anup knows that. "The game [against Patna] wasn't easy at all and the game on Sunday also will not be easy. We want to perform our best in the final with full power. Bengaluru Bulls have a raider short and they use Manjeet (Chhillar) as a 3rd raider. If we get Manjeet early, their defence will weaken," he explained.
Previous encounters this year:
19 July, 2015 - U Mumba defeated Bengaluru Bulls 36-23.
12 August, 2015 - U Mumba defeated Bengaluru Bulls 36-29.
Pro Kabaddi League 2015 Final: U Mumba vs Bengaluru Bulls gets underway on Sunday, 23 August, at 9 pm IST (4:30pm BST).
Where to Watch Live:
The match is LIVE on Star Sports.
Hindi Coverage - Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD 3, Star Gold
English Coverage - Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD 2
Telugu Coverage - Maa Movies
Kannada Coverage - Suvarna Plus
Marathi Coverage - Star Pravah
UK viewers can catch the action on Life OK