Mumbai: Spearheaded by captain Anup Kumar, last year’s finalists U Mumba appear to hold a clear edge over their rivals Bengaluru Bulls going into the title clash of the second Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League on Sunday.
The final, scheduled at 9:00 pm, would be preceded by the 3rd-4th placings game between losing semi finalists Telugu Titans and Patna Pirates.
The champions would become richer by Rs one crore, the runners-up would receive Rs 50 lakh while the team finishing third and fourth would be entitled to pocket Rs 30 and 20 lakh respectively.
On Saturday, the Bulls were cruising to a big victory over Telugu Titans in the semi-finals at the NSCI Stadium, but inexplicably became complacent and allowed the Hyderabad team to fight back and run them close before winning 39-38.
Against U Mumba, who have three fine raiders in Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bapu and Rishank Devadiga and backed up a very good defensive set-up headed by Jeeva Kumar, they can ill afford to loosen their grip at any stage of the final.
The Bulls are a bit over-dependent on their star all round player, the strongly built Manjeet Chillar, and U Mumba would certainly be targeting him for special attention.
Mumbai captain Anup Kumar, who picked up four touch points in raids against the Pirates on Saturday, was wary of their opponents in the final.
“This game wasn’t easy at all and the game on Sunday also will not be easy. We want to perform to our best in the final with full power. Bengaluru Bulls are a raider short and they use Manjeet as a third raider. If we get Manjeet early, their defence also will weaken,” he observed after guiding his team to a one-sided semi final win over the Pirates.
His team-mate and defender Vishal Mane too felt that Bengaluru were a bit short on raiders but their defence was very good, while at the same time praising his team’s skills and strengths.
“Both our defence and offence are strong and this was the reason for all our successes. From the first match itself, we wanted to reach the finals and we have achieved this which is good,” said Mane ahead of tomorrow’s summit contest.
For Bengaluru, Ajay Thakur, in attack, and Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Surender Nada, in defence, also need to be at their best along with captain Chillar if they are to upset the apple cart of the Mumbai outfit.
How difficult is the Bulls’ task is evident from the fact that U Mumba had lost only two games out of 15 they have played this season, after commencing their campaign by edging past last edition winners Jaipur Pink Panthers 29-28 at this venue just over a month ago.
U Mumba had defeated the Bulls by 13 points in their clash here on July 19 and then by 7 points at Bengaluru 10 days ago.
If Bengaluru can pull it off against the best side in the competition and in the most important game of the season, it would be huge upset and a well-deserved title-triumph.