Bengaluru Bulls’ Pro Kabaddi ride has been topsy-turvy, to say the least. After making a strong start in the first two seasons, their form nosedived thereafter when they failed to make the playoffs for three straight campaigns.
However, in the previous edition, the Bulls rose from the ashes to clinch their maiden title.
A team full of superstars in the first two seasons with players like Manjeet Chhillar, Ajay Thakur and Dharmaraj Cheralathan in their ranks, the Bulls were a force in the league. It took the strong U Mumba side under Bhaskaran Edachery to stop the Bulls from winning their first title in the first two seasons. In season one, they were undone in the semi-finals, before finishing second best in a nerve-wracking final in the second edition.
After letting all their star names go and deciding to adopt a new approach of putting faith in young talent, the Bulls didn’t taste much success in the three seasons that followed. However, the Bengaluru side kept faith in their coach Randhir Singh and his methods eventually bore fruit last season when the Bulls won the title.
With the core of last season’s championship-winning side retained, few would put it past Bengaluru to pull off a repeat.
Past record for Bengaluru Bulls in Pro Kabaddi
|Season 1||Lost to U Mumba in semi-finals|
|Season 2||Lost to U Mumba in final|
|Season 3||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished seventh in league phase|
|Season 4||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished sixth in league phase|
|Season 5||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished fourth in Zone B in league phase|
The Bulls retained five players ahead of the latest auction. It included expensive players like captain Rohit Kumar and last season’s MVP Pawan Sehrawat. So the champions went into the auction with a large chunk of their purse already exhausted.
Continuing their approach of signing youngsters, the Bulls picked up eight players with a price tag of Rs 10 lakh or below. Their biggest purchase in the auction was defender Mahender Dhaka who was retained for Rs 80 lakh using the FBM card.
Continuity will be the greatest strength for the Bulls who have six out of the seven players that started last year’s final against Gujarat Fortunegiants in their ranks. With a great understanding among its members, the Bengaluru side could hit the ground running in the upcoming season.
The Bulls’ success last season was built on Sehrawat’s raiding heroics, Rohit’s captaincy and a steady defence. Sehrawat and Rohit scored 433 raid points among them and the duo would be keen to improve on that tally after a year’s experience of playing in tandem.
Right corner remains an area of concern for Randhir Singh’s men. Raju Lal Chaudhary is set to fill that role for the Bulls, but his performances last year left a lot to be desired. With teams studying their defensive moves and making plans to exploit their few weaknesses, the Bulls would need to tighten up in defence to ensure they save enough points for the raiders to make the difference.
Randhir Singh is the longest-serving coach in Pro Kabaddi having led the Bulls in every season since the opening campaign.
The former Railways employee has been a crucial part of India’s Kabaddi infrastructure, raising stars like Rakesh Kumar. He was nominated for a Dronacharya award by the Kabaddi Federation.
He is a coach who has always put faith in young players, giving Pro Kabaddi debuts to Pawan Sehrawat and Pardeep Narwal. The duo’s success in the league since is a testament to his eye for talent.
Player to watch out for: Rohit Kumar
The Bengaluru Bulls skipper is one of the best raiders in the league. With 576 raid points in his kitty, Rohit is the fifth-highest scoring raider in Pro kabaddi history despite only starting in the third season. However, last season was all about his astute captaincy as he happily played second fiddle to Sehrawat. Despite injury limiting his raiding contribution, Rohit played on, expertly managing his troops in their remarkable run to the title.
Having regained full fitness, Rohit is set to be a strong presence in the opposition half again. If Rohit raids with his full potential this season, defenders will have a tough time against the Bulls.
Raiders: Rohit Kumar, Banty, Lal Mohar Yadav (Nepal), Pawan Sehrawat, Sumit Singh, Vinod Kumar
Defenders: Mohit Sehrawat, Raju Lal Choudhary, Vijay Kumar, Mahender Singh, Saurabh Nandal, Aman, Sandeep, Ajay, Amit Sheoran, Ankit
All-rounders: Ashish Kumar, Sanjay Shrestha (Nepal)