PKL 2019: Will the absence of Jang Kun Lee further hurt Bengal Warriors?

Bengal Warriors' inconsistency in the second half of the Pro Kabaddi League season 6 was its bane. Losses to Haryana Steelers and Dabang Delhi disturbed the Kolkata-based side's plan to top its zone.

K. Prapanjan raiding at a Bengal Warriors practice session.

K. Prapanjan raiding at a Bengal Warriors practice session.   -  Twitter/@BengalWarriors

Bengal Warriors' story has been that of an underachiever in the last six seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). Its best finish had come in 2017, when the team settled for the third place. Last season, Warriors gave a fine performance in the league stage to finish second in Zone B. It reached the playoffs, before falling short of the final for the second successive season.

Warriors' inconsistency in the second half of the Season 6 was its bane. Losses to Haryana Steelers and Dabang Delhi disturbed the Kolkata-based side's plan to top its zone. A weak defence too hampered the progress of Warriors, which had defeated eventual champion Bengaluru Bulls thrice in the league stage.

Over-dependence on raider Maninder Singh – who was part of the champion side Jaipur Pink Panthers, in the inaugural season – was another reason behind Warriors' below-par showing.

The side is optimistic to overcome this issue in the upcoming edition with the hiring of Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, a current Asian Games gold medallist and a Dubai Masters silver medallist. He would be expected to take some burden off Maninder in the raiding unit.

Jeeva Kumar's addition should provide some strength to the Warriors' defence.

Raiders: K. Prapanjan, Sukesh Hegde, Bhuvneshwar Gaur, Rakesh Narwal, Mohammad Taghi Paenimahalli, Maninder Singh and Ravindra Kumawat

With proven players like Maninder, Sukesh Hegde and K. Prapanjan – a running hand-touch specialist, who scored the most do-or-die points for Tamil Thalaivas in Season 5, Warriors has depth at the both ends of the mat and inspires a lot of confidence as far as raiding is concerned.

READ: PKL 2019: MVP Pawan Kumar Sehrawat looks to lead Bengaluru Bulls to second successive title

Maninder, who was fifth among the leading raiders with 206 points in 22 outings last season, will remain the raider-in-chief for the Warriors, while others in his department will chip in from time to time. With comparatively lesser pressure on his shoulders, Maninder will look forward to take his game to the next level and serve Warriors better.

Making his PKL debut, Iranian raider Mohammad Taghi Paein Mahali will be a surprise weapon for the side.

Defenders: Jeeva Kumar, Dharmendra Singh, Viraj Landge, Vijin Thangadurai, Sahil, Amit, Rinku Narwal, Baldev Singh, Adarsh T

The experienced Jeeva Kumar, an Asian Games gold winner in 2010 and a PKL title winner with U Mumba in Season 5, will lead the defence. Known for his strong dashes to overpower opposition raiders, Jeeva was part of UP Yoddha in Season 6.

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A master super-tackler, Jeeva, along with Vijin Thangadurai – who has served three teams in six seasons, will also have the responsibility of guiding debutant defenders such as Naveen Narwal, Sahil and Amit in the defence.

All-rounders: Amir Dhumal, Avinash A.R., Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh

Iranian import Nabibakhsh, who was the costliest foreign player at Rs 77.75 lakh and replaced a trusted hand like Korean Jang Kun Lee, will be the X-factor for Warriors. Nabibakhsh is equally good in his raids as well as his superb blocks and strong holds. The 27-year-old will also be keen to make his mark in his first appearance in the PKL and help Warriors in its ambition to produce some entertaining action in Season 7.

Bengal Warriors full schedule

July 24: UP Yoddha vs Bengal Warriors

July 27: Jaipur Pink Panthers vs Bengal Warriors

July 29: Bengal Warriors vs Puneri Paltan

August 3: Bengal Warriors vs Bengaluru Bulls

August 9: Bengal Warriors vs U Mumba

August 12: Bengal Warriors vs Telugu Titans

August 14: Gujarat FortuneGiants vs Bengal Warriors

August 17: Bengal Warriors vs Dabang Delhi

August 22: Bengal Warriors vs Patna Pirates

August 26: Bengal Warriors vs Haryana Steelers

August 29: Bengal Warriors vs Tamil Thalaivas

September 1: UP Yoddha vs Bengal Warriors

September 7: Bengal Warriors vs Gujarat FortuneGiants

September 8: Bengal Warriors vs Puneri Paltan

September 11: Bengal Warriors vs U Mumba

September 13: Bengal Warriors vs Bengaluru Bulls

September 19: Bengal Warriors vs Haryana Steelers

September 22: Jaipur Pink Panthers vs Bengal Warriors

September 25: Telugu Titans vs Bengal Warriors

September 30: Bengal Warriors vs Dabang Delhi

October 6: Bengal Warriors vs Patna Pirates

October 9: Bengal Warriors vs Tamil Thalaivas