AS THE CURTAINS GO UP to unveil Season 3 of the now popular Pro Kabaddi League at the Rajeev Gandhi Sports Complex in Visakhapatnam, the opener promises to be a lip smacking affair with defending champions U Mumba, looking formidable as ever taking on a well prepared Telugu Titans on home turf.
U Mumba having E Bhaskaran, a hard task master as their coach will be a fit side after their long drawn conditioning camp in Kerala. Add to that the genius of their ‘captain cool’ Anup Kumar and the stable combination they have evolved over last two years with Shabbir Bapu Sharfudeen the man with the Midas touch as one of their mainstays. Wasn’t he responsible in turning the tables on the Bengaluru Bulls, with that swift move to decide the title?
The all-rounder Rishank Devadiga, the do-or-die raid specialist, two good corner men in Surendar Nada and Mohit Chillar and the ever reliable old war-horse Jeeva Kumar bolstering the defence. U Mumba have also strengthened their attacking arsenal by adding former India captain Rakesh Kumar who was with the Patna Pirates.
The Titans too have added muscle to their weak defence, roping in the 40-year old Dharmaraj Cheralathan. They have tremendous faith in him. They have made him the leader. Iranian Meraj Shaikh who impressed the supporters, tall and well-built Prashant Rai, do-or-die raid specialist Sukesh Hegde are all there to pose a few questions to the visitors.
The other important thing for Titans is to overcome the loss of the league’s best attacker Rahul Chaudhari. That man was single-handedly responsible in giving Uttar Pradesh its maiden title in the National Championships a few weeks ago.
Home support will be a crucial factor but haven’t U Mumba surmounted that on numerous occasions in the past two seasons while finishing runners-up and winners?