PKL: Bengal Warriors geared up for season three

Dismal show in the first two editions has led Kolkata franchise Bengal Warriors to overhaul their team, including a new coach and captain for the third Pro-Kabaddi League, commencing on January 30.

Captain Nilesh Sinde and South Korean raider Jang Kun Lee will be the key stars for Bengal Warriors   -  Nagara Gopal

Dismal show in the first two editions has led Kolkata franchise Bengal Warriors to overhaul their team, including a new coach and captain for the third Pro-Kabaddi League, commencing on January 30.

Defender Nilesh Shinde, who captained in the first edition of PKL, has been reinstated as the captain for the upcoming season. Former skipper and all-rounder Dinesh Kumar has also been retained in the 21-member squad, though the team has made seven changes from the 2015 side.

The new-look team will also have a new coach in Pratap Shetty. He has been brought in place of Raj Narain Sharma, under whom the team finished a poor seventh and sixth in the 2014 and 2015 editions, respectively.

“It’s easier for a defender to lead the side as he stays till the end but in case of a raider (Dinesh Kumar) it becomes difficult. However (Dinesh) remains a key member of the squad. We’re confident of a good show this time,” CEO Sandip Tarkas told a news conference today.

Among other changes, the squad now has new recruits in Girish Maruti Ernak (formerly Patna Pirates), Nitin More (Puneri Paltan), Shrikant Jadhav (Jaipur Pink Panthers) and Felix Odhiambo Opnana from Kenya. The support staff has also undergone with the team hiring an additional physio.

“Our main aim is fitness this time and a second physio will help eliminate injuries,” said captain Shinde, while pointing out that they had struggled with injuries to seven of their players in the last edition.

Bengal Warriors will begin their campaign against home team Telugu Titans on February 2 in Visakhapatnam.

The eight-team tournament will take place in a caravan format, with the Kolkata leg to be held from February 7-10.

Squad: Nilesh Shinde (c), Bajirao Hodage, Deepak Dhull, Chaminda Ruwan, Samarakoon Mudiyanselage (Sri Lanka), Deepak Kumar, Vijin Thangadurai, Shyam Kumar Shah, Narendar Kumar, Krushna Madane, Girish Maruti Ernak and Nitin More (all defenders); Nitin Madane, Jang Kun Lee (South Korea), Mahesh Goud, Mahendra Rajput, Kedar Lal, Vineet Sharma, Umesh Mhatre, Shrikant Jadhav and Felix Odhiambo Opana (all raiders), and Dinesh Kumar (allrounder). Coach: Pratap Shetty.