Ballari Tuskers, Team Profile: Defending champion set for repeat of title-winning campaign
Bengaluru, 17 August 2017: As any champion team can vouch, defending a title is always harder than winning it. Opponents will be out to get you and they raise their games against you. It’s the nature of sport. Ballari Tuskers lifted the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League trophy, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies, in a thrilling campaign in 2016. Now, a year later, they have ensured their preparations for defending the title in the upcoming edition is flawless.
That determination was evident in the KPL 2017 player auction, when they executed a set plan to near-perfection. They knew the players they wanted and they went about acquiring those names with aggressive bidding. This was particularly evident in how Ballari functioned during the auction for the Pool A players – they were the first team to meet limit of five players from that pool. The result is that they have a squad with a core comprised of a few members of the title-winning squad from last year, along with some promising new players adding firepower and enterprise.
“We have a strategy in place. For every area, we knew how many fast bowlers we wanted, how many openers. We had it all worked out,” said R Shailesh Kumar, the team COO. “We gave prominence to Pool A players to a certain extent, but we had our options in Pool B as well, just in case we didn’t get everyone we wanted to in the first round. But luckily, we could get everyone we wanted (in Pool A). In fact, we got around 90% of the players we had planned for the whole auction. That was possible because we had laid out our options very early – we had at least three options for each place.”
Amit Verma was their most expensive buy with the 30-year-old all-rounder costing them as much as Rs 7.2 lakh. Other players to be retained were IG Anil, KB Pawan, Rohan Kadam and Prateek Jain, all with ample experience of their title surge the previous season. With the addition of experienced campaigners like CM Gautam, Kunal Kapoor, and promising youngsters in Zahoor Farooqui and Abhinav Manohar, Ballari have squad with a good mixture of youth and experience.
The focus for Ballari now will be to repeat the routines of last year. It won them the title in 2016, and they are hopeful a replication of their practices would result in a trophy again.
Verma said as much. “I’m just really happy to be back with Ballari, they are the winning team from last season,” he said. “The owner took care of us really well. It’s a new team this year. We missed out on a few guys from last year, but we have a good team. We just need to start practising, get together and finish the tournament the way we did last year, follow the same routines, bat, bowl and field the same way as last year. If we do that, we should end up on top this year as well. That’ll be the main goal for us. Win as many matches as possible and get into the final four. Then take it on from there.”
The logic is sound. With the auction, half the battle has been won. There is nothing stopping Ballari from going on to lift the trophy again.
Squad (from): Amit Verma, KL Rahul, KB Pawan, CM Gautam, Prateek Jain, Sai Shiv Narayan, Anil IG, Devdutt Padikal, Nishant Singh Shekvat, Abhinav Manohar, Bhavesh Gulecha, Zeeshan Ali Sayyed, Rohan Kadam, Dinesh Borwankar, Zahoor Farooqi, Kunal Kapoor, Daivik Vishwanath, Gautham Sagar.
Head coach – David Johnson
Batting coach - Irfan Sait
Fielding coach – Mukesh Naidu
Manager – Santosh Shetty
Trainer – Prashant Pujar
Physio – Nadeem Sheriff
COO – R Shailesh Kumar
Team owner – Venkatesh Reddy and Smt. Bhagyalakshmi (Authorised signatory – Arvind V Reddy)