Kabaddi
PKL 2023: U Mumba skipper Surinder Singh looks for redemption in upcoming season

PKL 2023: U Mumba skipper Surinder Singh looks for redemption in upcoming season

The Vivo Pro Kabaddi auction takes place on October 9 & 10, with the tournament starting on December 2.

If one is to look at the U Mumba squad just before the PKL 2023 auctions, it would give a feel of a rookie team, with just two senior players by their side, skipper Surinder Singh and right corner specialist Rinku. The latter too, isn’t a senior by any stretch of the imagination, but relatively speaking, in a team where maximum players made their debuts last year, Rinku’s 41 matches spread across two seasons make him seem like a veteran.

The Gholamreza Mazandarani Effect in PKL

Captain of the ship, Surinder alone has more matches under his belt, than the rest of the lot combined. He has been plying his trade in Pro Kabaddi 2023 since 2017 and has spent a major chunk at U Mumba. It was only in 2021, that he went to Telugu Titans for a year, but came back to his home in the last edition, where he fits the best. 

No experience, or the lack of it, isn’t really a problem for him. In fact, he did reasonably well with such a team in the last edition too. Plus, the team has already marked out a few experienced players who they’ll be bidding for at the auctions. Speaking with InsideSport, Surinder Singh seemed pleased with his young bunch of boys, for now. What really adds to his confidence is the return of the Iranian coach, Gholamreza Mazandarani, who was with the team in 2018 as well.

“We are not really worried about the lack of experience. This year we will have Gholamreza coach with us from Iran, and we will be banking on his experience. So that is not really a concern for us,” Surinder said. “He along with other coaches in the team have a lot of experience under their belt. So we should not be worried about anything. I can tell you one thing right now as well, we won’t underperform due to the experience issue. Being the only Iranian coach in the league will bring something different to the table as well. His training methods, drills, diet, everything is different. We are expecting a good season for sure.”

Surinder Singh Wants Maninder Singh at U Mumba for PKL 2023

With a strong defensive unit already, U Mumba clearly lacks a quality raider in their ranks. Last season too, Jai Bhagwan stepped up and did the bulk of the raiding for the team in his first season only. But the problem arose when the latter did not have any support from other raiders. That is where the experience counts, to which Surinder also agrees. 

“If we talk about last year, the defensive unit was firing all cylinders for us. This year too, we want to work on our strength, which is defending. Right now we have a strong defensive unit, and at the auctions, we’d like to add players who provide stability to us. Having said that, at the auctions, we’d look for an A or B category raider. We have players marked in the C and D categories as well, who are really good and can spring a surprise. We don’t want to be lacking in the raiding department as well. But A and B category raiders are what we need badly in our team.

vivo pro kabaddi surinder singh maninder singh u mumba

“The close matches we lost, were all because of the lack of raiders in the team. And for that very reason, we want that experienced raider on our side. We know where we need to improve, and have a plan in place. I do have a player in my mind, if we can get Maninder Singh, nothing like it. Without a solid defense, he used to single-handedly take Bengal Warriors far in the tournament.”

Substantiating his point further, Surinder gave more reasons why the presence of Maninder Singh could be a game-changer for U Mumba in this season of PKL 2023. “He is one bull in the ring. Such a player, who is so well-built, has a lesser chance of getting injured. Players like him, and Siddarth Desai. When such players come to raid in PKL, the pressure mounts on the opposition team. We know even if we tackle them 10-11 times, there will be just one raid by them, where they will decimate the entire defence. This has a negative effect on the other team. If we get one such raider like this, nothing like it.” 

As things stand now, U Mumba, going into the auction has a little over INR 2.5cr left in their purse, and to get a top raider can set them down by at least a crore. With 13 in the squad already, a top raider, the team would need a minimum of another four more players in their side. Without this happening, it doesn’t look like a side that generates a lot of confidence, unfortunately. 

U Mumba Pro Kabaddi 2023 Squad

Pro Kabaddi 2023: Surinder Singh, Jai Bhagwan, Rinku, Heidarali Ekrami, Shivam, Shivansh Thakur, Pranay Vinay Rane, Rupesh, Sachin

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