After securing its best-ever performance — third place — in the previous edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, the Bengal Warriors retained eight players from season 5, eyeing an even better performance this year.
With most of its members not participating in the Asian Games, the side began its preparatory camp at its favourite venue, the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata, on August 16 — before the start of the continental extravaganza in Jakarta and Palembang — to focus on building the team. Needless to say, the Warriors’ players will be comparatively fresher and fitter than the competition when PKL-6 begins.
“Our preparations have been good. The combinations are shaping up well as the core of our team is the same as that of last season,” said coach Jagdish Kumble, a 2002 Asian Games gold medallist.
For the Warriors, the focus has been on strengthening all departments. “The team is looking balanced this time with all positions covered with experienced players. We have plugged last season’s weak spots,” said Kumble.
The Warriors recruited two foreign players — its trusted raider and current Asian Games silver medallist Jang Kun Lee, who was part of the South Korean side that defeated India in the group stage in Jakarta, and Bangladeshi defender Ziaur Rahman.
The team has showed faith in defender Surjeet Singh, who will captain it, and raider Maninder Singh, earning their services for ₹80.3 lakh and ₹56.87 lakh, respectively. The duo, who helped the side achieve its third-place finish last year, is expected to shoulder maximum responsibility and enable the Warriors to break new ground this year.
Player to watch — Surjeet Singh
The Bengal Warriors’ tackler-in-chief is the side’s costliest player. Surjeet Singh, who was second among the tacklers in the previous edition with 76 tackle points from 24 matches, was a part of the Indian side that took part in the Kabaddi Masters in Dubai in June. “I have returned from the India camp. The training in the Bengal Warriors camp has given additional help and support to maintain fitness, which will be helpful for me to play and perform in the league,” he said.
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