After a close match against Gujarat Fortunegiants that ended in a 2-point loss, U Mumba will take on Haryana Steelers, a team they have already defeated twice, in the final leagues-stage clash of these two sides this season. While U Mumba have an obvious advantage given their two earlier wins were by a margin of 27 points and 10 points respectively, Haryana Steelers have shown that they can beat the best teams on their day given they are the only team to have beaten Gujarat Fortunegiants so far in this campaign. Their last victory came against a team in the middle of their home leg as well in Patna.

Haryana Steelers will be bolstered by the fact that even in the previous season they were in a similar situation, having lost to U Mumba in their first two encounters before they came back strongly in the third game banking on Vikash Khandola’s raiding and managed to pull one back.

Match 59 (Zone B): U Mumba vs. Haryana Steelers

Head-to-head: U Mumba 4 – 1 Haryana Steelers

Siddharth Desai’s return will definitely give a huge boost to U Mumba’s morale. However, the fact that the rest of their otherwise impressive raiding core was able to contribute just 7 raid points to the team’s cause in their team’s defeat to Gujarat Fortunegiants will be a cause of worry. Even while Fazel Atrachali was impressive in the latter part of the match, it was Vinod Kumar who was the team’s highest tackle point scorer, returning his first High 5 from the game.

Haryana Steelers have succumbed to two straight losses after their victory over Patna Pirates. While their raiding unit has scored a bulk of the team’s points over this course, the defence hasn’t had one player who they could rally around. With Sunil finding some touch against Dabang Delhi K.C. the U Mumba raiders might see a higher morale in the Haryana Steelers defence. The strategy of bringing Monu Goyat off the bench at a vital juncture in the game has worked well for Haryana Steelers and they might persist with it against U Mumba as well.

The big battle –

Fazel Atrachali vs Monu Goyat

Fazel Atrachali’s form has so far been vital to U Mumba’s victories in Season 6. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that when Atrachali is in full flow he doesn’t just carry momentum with him throughout the game but also intimidates the opposition raiders by closing in very close to the midline and shutting down their escape path if they even venture a little too deep in the U Mumba half. However, starving Atrachali for tackle points may be the key against U Mumba as his three unsuccessful tackles hurt the team’s results immensely in their game against Gujarat Fortunegiants. One thing from Atrachali’s statistics is clear- every time his tackle strike rate falls, his team tends to lose.

Being a smart raider, Monu Goyat might just be the man who could exploit this little chink in the U Mumba armour. Though Atrachali’s tackle strike rate against him is exactly 50% overall, it rises to 85.71% in games that the Iranian Corner has won. This shows how important this battle will be in the game. If Goyat can keep from giving Atrachali early points and upset his rhythm by sending him to the bench early it could be Haryana Steelers’ game.

Key Khiladi –

Abhishek Singh - U Mumba

While Siddharth Desai will definitely be doing a big part of the raiding for U Mumba if he is fully fit, the role of a secondary raider is of utmost importance for the team. Singh was the team’s top raider in both their games before Saturday and his form can have a big impact as he averages 5 raid points in his team’s wins but only 1 in their losses.

Kuldeep Singh - Haryana Steelers

In their last 2 matches, Haryana Steelers’ defence has just 16 tackle points as compared to their oppositions’ 24. The defence has contributed to less than a quarter of the team’s total points in these games. This means that someone like Kuldeep Singh, who is the team’s lead tackler so far, has to step up if the team has to have a chance against U Mumba. Getting Siddharth Desai early is the key for Haryana Steelers and Singh could be the man who does it for them.

Factor This –

Vikash Khandola has almost twice as many raid points against U Mumba as compared to any other opposition in VIVO Pro Kabaddi.