Mumbai, Dec 20 (IANS) Ahead of the third edition of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), defending champions U Mumba received a big boost as they added India captain Rakesh Kumar to their squad on Sunday. Rakesh, known for his spectacular Lion’s Jumps and Cartwheels will add to the extensively enriched talent pool of the Mumbai team which includes captain Anup Kumar Shabeer Bapu, Mohit Chillar, Surender Nada, Jeeva Kumar and local stars Vishal Mane and Rishank Devadiga, among others, according to a release from the franchise.
“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 in a release. Captain Anup welcomed Rakesh who played with Patna Pirates in the earlier two editions. “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,” Anup said. Defending champions U Mumba have already started their training in Kerala under the watchful eyes of coach Edacherry Bhaskaran and assistant coach Ravi Shetty. 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. U Mumba will begin their title defence on January 30, 2016, in Hyderabad as they take on Telugu Titans at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium.