Bengaluru Bulls: Looking for a first

The closest the team has come to winning a title was in the second season, when it finished runner-up. It couldn’t make it beyond the group stage in 2017, but coach Randhir Singh insists the side was plain unlucky and didn’t lack in talent.

The Bengaluru Bulls decided to retain its bankable raider Rohit Kumar this year and build a team around him.   -  G.P.Sampath Kumar

Randhir Singh has achieved as much as a coach as he did as a player. “I have won 20 medals as a coach to go with the 20 I have won as a player,” he said. His tally includes national, Asian and South Asian medals. But a Pro Kabaddi League title isn’t among them.

Into his sixth season with the Bengaluru Bulls, he hopes to change that little fact.

The closest the team has come to winning a title was in the second season, when it finished runner-up. It couldn’t make it beyond the group stage in 2017, but Singh insists the side was plain unlucky and didn’t lack in talent. “It is not that we played poorly in the last season. We won against UP Yoddha by a record margin (40 points); it shows we are a very good side. One of our main raiders (Parvinder Singh) got banned just before a crucial match and we lost out on making the super playoffs by just a few points. We were just unlucky last year,” he said.

READ | Preview - Bengal Warriors: Finding a balance

This year, the Bengaluru Bulls decided to retain its bankable raider Rohit Kumar and build a team around him. Realising the team was getting too dependent on Kumar, its captain, it reinforced its raiding department by bidding for former Dabang Delhi star Kashiling Adake and Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, and brought in youngsters like Harish Naik and Rohit to mould into future stars.

The defence responsibilities have been entrusted to Mahender Singh and Rahul Choudhary, but the team lacks a superstar in its ranks who can steer it clear of danger. The coach has put his faith in Jasmer Gulia and Ashish Kumar to make up for lapses in offence or defence, and is hopeful of a better show this year.

Overall, the team looks strong in offence and has a balanced mix of experienced players and youngsters to sustain it for the long season, and has been preparing for more than a month at the One World Academy near Chennai.

Player to watch — Rohit Kumar

Kumar won the best raider award in Season 3 for U Mumba and became the first player to score more than 30 points in a single game, tallying 32 against UP Yoddha to help the Bulls win by a record margin. In Season 5, he accumulated 231 points to finish second in the season-ending list behind Pardeep Narwal. He was also the second best in terms of total number of raid points (219), successful raids (192) and Super 10s (12).