Bengaluru Bulls have failed to hit the heights that they did by making it to consecutive semi-finals in the first two seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League. But in season six, they would be hoping to serve a reminder of what the team was, and still is capable of.
Even though the Bulls might not have had consistency in personnel in their time as a team in the PKL, coach Randhir Singh has been a constant presence in the team. This season, former Puneri Paltan coach BC Ramesh will be with the team, assisting Singh in the various strategies they will seek to employ.
But there are challenges facing the team. If they were over-reliant on Rohit and Ajay Kumar as far as the attack was concerned, they have sought to rectify that by buying eight pure raiders ahead of season six. However, in the process, the defence seems to have been neglected.
Continuing in the right cover role will be Ashish Kumar, and Raju Lal Choudhary will replace Ravinder Pahal at right corner. Mahender Singh, who claimed 58 tackle points last season will continue at left-cover. Left-corner is the position where the Bulls will be placing their faith in one of the new members of the side. With most of the reinforcements being in the attacking department, the team lacks strength in depth when it comes to the defence.
At the auction, the Bulls just picked up three players from category A and B, the categories which contained the most experienced, and expensive players. Thirteen players have been picked from the other remaining categories.
"It's good to have young players in your team. The energy levels are high. The advantage with unknown players is that we always have a surprise element. Teams can't plan against us," captain Rohit Kumar told Firstpost.
"Obviously, you need to work harder during preparation with younger players in the side, but we have worked very hard in pre-season and that gives me confidence."
Like every season, Bengaluru Bulls had their pre-season training camp in Tamil Nadu. 28-year old Kumar reveals that assistant coach BC Ramesh has come up with a few new interesting training techniques. Apart from daily sessions on the beach, individual skills are being focused on.
"Ramesh sir has helped us individually in terms of skill. There has been a lot of focus on that aspect this season. He has advised me to add more dimensions to my raiding. I will now be using a few more moves this season, that I had stopped using in Pro Kabaddi. Similarly, he has worked with a lot of other players on improving their game," Kumar said.
Kumar will need the younger players to step up to the plate, if the Bulls are to pose any threat to the other teams with more experienced campaigners, having had a taste of the league before. Jasmer Singh Gulia, the all-rounder is a senior-pro, but his influence is more likely to be outside of the mat rather than on it, with him unlikely to get much playing time.
The likes of Manjit Chhillar, Ajay Thakur and Dharmaraj Cheralathan are names that were once associated with Bengaluru Bulls, names that helped propel them to eye-catching performances in the first two years of their existence. It remains to be seen if season six will see the birth of new stars for Bengaluru Bulls, but with no pressure of expectations, the conditions are perfect for the newcomers to step up and make a mark.