As the action shifts to the cool climes of Bengaluru in the Season 3 of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi tomorrow there will be a lot of heat generated in the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium over the next four days. With the home team Bengaluru Bulls having made a splendid start to their campaign despite the large scale exodus of tried and tested players like all-rounder Manjeet Chhillar and top raider Ajay Thakur, Dharmaraj Cherlathan and Joginder Narwal the ace defenders, Bengalurites will be expecting their team to continue the ‘bull’ run on home turf.
Captain Surjeet Narwal, the big built raider was at the forefront as the revival was being scripted against Dabang Delhi. The team from the capital is no mean side considering they had top raider Kashiling Adake and Surjeet Singh an equally dangerous attacker and a dreaded right corner Ravindra Pahal who was the top defender last season.
But the Bulls’ coach Randhir Singh, known for his strategic insights managed to deploy his resources so well that the boys found it easy to clinically plot the downfall of their rivals. An overpowering lead of 25-9 in the first-half sums up the whole story. Besides Surjeet Narwal, the lanky Amit Rathi who came over from Puneri Paltan, Shrikant Tewthia from Delhi Dabang also made an impression raising their fans’ hopes.
But they must not let their guard down as was evident that day. They scored just about nine points in the second session which should be extremely worrying. Kashiling was totally off-colour and he scored just two points and that too during his last raid! Surely, Randhir must have taken note!
The Bengaluru Bulls contested the finals last season and the home leg right at the beginning of the league is a good opportunity to thrive, given the good start. But that will happen if they keep up the momentum with consistent play. Bengaluru Bulls will be certainly aiming to win at least three of the four matches which will help them go to the top. They face a tough opening test against Patna Pirates whose confidence will be on a high after stunning former champions Jaipur Pink Panthers in a nerve wracking encounter decided in the last raid.
The first leg has seen some interesting matches with sudden up and downs. U Mumba dominated the game against home team Telugu Titans for most of the time but then let the advantage slip before squeezing past by a couple of points. That loss of momentum affected them in the next match where they went down to Jaipur Pink Panthers quite tamely.
Telugu Titans then won a one-point difference thriller against star-studded Puneri Paltan and buoyed by that went on to grind the Delhi Dabangs to dust. Telugu Titans are yet to play Bengal Warriors while this is being written. They will be hoping to garner full points to take their tally to 16. Telugu Titans have a three-day off after this match which refreshes them for the lone match against the hosts on February 6.
Bengaluru Bulls’ next opponents from Kolkata are still an unknown quantity. They have persisted with the same team and a change of captaincy has lifted the burden off veteran star Dinesh Kumar’s shoulders. If he plays freely and new Captain Nilesh Shinde marshals his resources well under the new coach Pratap Shetty who is also the Captain’s club coach at Bharat Petroleum, then trust the Warriors to fight ferociously! The home team’s next rivals Panthers, smarting under that terrible last raid loss surely will be back with a vengeance. Sonu Narwal would be trying to make amends and Jasvir gradually coming into his own are warning signals for the Bulls which Randhir will surely not ignore.
If the Bengaluru Bulls can win at least two of the first three high profile matches they have a chance to set up an interesting clash with the Titans who will be watching their performances keenly. The first phase has witnessed good Kabaddi with players looking lean, mean, fit and fully prepared for the gruelling season.
Newer tactics and strategies are gradually evolving and technology too is playing an important role. Microphones under the players’ apparel and the mat are aiding in monitoring the ‘cant’, which is the soul or ‘atma’ of the sport. The second phase promises a lot so sit back and enjoy that seems the message from the teams to their supporters.