Mumbai: With Kabaddi fever all set to grip the country with the third edition of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi starting in January 2016, defending champions U Mumba have further strengthened their team with the addition of the indomitable Rakesh Kumar to their squad. The Indian captain, who was with the Patna Pirates for the last two seasons, was welcomed to the team by Captain Anup Kumar at a Media Interaction in the city today.
Rakesh, known for his spectacular Lion's Jumps and Cartwheels will add to the extensively enriched talent pool of the Mumbai team which includes Shabeer Bapu, Mohit Chillar, Surender Nada, Jeeva Kumar and local superheroes Vishal Mane and Rishank Devadiga amongst others. "U Mumba has been the most consistent team across both seasons of the league and have the most balanced squad in terms of youth and experience. The players, the coaching staff and of course Anup have made my transition into the team very comfortable and the training sessions have been very good. I am thrilled to be a part of this team and am looking forward to defending our title this year" said Rakesh.
The duo have played extensively together and will certainly strengthen the team, "We are a great team and understand each other's game perfectly. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and have learnt to structure our game around them. Rakesh is not only an exceptional player but is also a great mentor to the youngsters of the team. His addition will definitely take U Mumba a notch higher and will help us in our goal of becoming champions yet again." Says Anup Kumar on the extent of Rakesh's influence.
Defending champions U Mumba have already started their training in Kerala under the watchful eyes of Coach Edacherry Bhaskaran and Assistant Coach Ravi Shetty, who are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that they return to the mat stronger than ever. The team has been focussing on strength conditioning and injury prevention apart from sharpening the skills that helped them achieve the longest winning streak of eight consecutive victories last season. Come January, the team will look to deliver an encore performance from last year and continue their dominance over the tournament which is all set to be played biannually from 2016.
Speaking about the team for the season, Supratik Sen, CEO of U Sports said "As the Defending Champions, stakes are definitely high this season, but being the only team to have two Arjuna Awardees- Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar, I am confident that we will give all the teams a run for their money. This is the third season of the league, and as a team which has only grown better with each passing edition, U Mumba will play to keep the trophy home."
U Mumba will begin their journey in the third edition of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi on 30 January 2016 in Hyderabad as they take on Telugu Titans at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium at 8:00 pm IST.