Bengaluru Blasters Team Profile: Newest kids on the block set to take tournament by storm
It’s been a while since Bengaluru have had a representative in the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies. But in the 2017 edition of the tournament, the state’s proud capital will return to the set-up with a brand new team, a committed, passionate owner and management, and an urge to win.
Kalyani Motors won the rights for the Bengaluru franchise, and the management has since gone about acquiring the in-demand J Arun Kumar as coach and moulding a well-rounded team during the player auctions on August 6. Now, the Bengaluru Blasters stand tall, knowing that while they are the newest entrants in a tournament that is now in its sixth edition, they still have realistic hopes of lifting the trophy this September.
One noticeable aspect about Bengaluru’s squad of 18 is that it is made up of an assortment of quality players, providing cover in each area. R Samarth – their most expensive purchase at Rs 5.9 lakh – headlines the squad, while the likes of Pavan Deshpande, Prasidh Krishna, Mitrakant Yadav and Shishir Bhavane make-up the big-name buys.
Mr Mohan Raju, the team owner, said they are delighted with their performance at their first auction. “We’re quite happy. We have an all-round team,” he said. “There are a lot of all-rounders, we’ve a few left-hand batsmen, a good set of fast bowlers and good spinners. To counter left-hand batsmen, we’ve off-spinners like Pavan Deshpande. To counter leg-spinners and left-arm spinners of the opponents, we’ve two top order left-hand batsmen in Shishir Bhavane and Pavan. R Samarth is in top form, he’ll be our opening batsman. There are the likes Mitrakant Yadav, Sinan (Abdul Khader) … everything is covered.”
Mr Raju also had high hopes for Nikin Jose, the 17-year-old opening batsman who is also an ambidextrous bowler. Nikin became the youngest player to play in the tournament in 2015, when he was just 15, and with experience gained at the Under-19 level for the state, he could prove to be the surprise package.
But perhaps the team’s biggest coup was in securing the services of Arun Kumar, popularly known as JAK. One of the most successful coaches in India’s domestic circuit, Arun Kumar led Karnataka to a treble of domestic titles – Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Cup – for two years in succession. He is a serial winner, and it’s this winning habit that he’ll inculcate in his squad. And for their part, the Blasters have promised him a free reign.
Securing Arun Kumar’s services wasn’t easy. “All the teams already had their set-up ready, and we were the last ones. The other teams had their support staff already in place. So roping in JAK was huge,” said Mr Raju. “It was a tough task. He was available, but he hadn’t confirmed with any other team. Since most teams wanted him, I had to struggle. But he was very happy with our franchise. We’re a corporate, and we’ve a few systems in place, so he was very happy with that. I gave him a free-hand in selection, in the playing XI. We told him we wouldn’t influence all that, no pressure, that would be his area. That’s when he said okay.”
Bengaluru might be the newest team on the block. But this side are sure to leave an impression in their first ever KPL.
Squad (from): R Samarth, Pavan Deshpande, Mitrakanth Yadav, Shishir Bhavane, Prasidh M Krishna, Pranav Bhatia, Sinan Abdul Khader, Jeshwanth Acharya, Manjesh Reddy, Shivam Mishra, Rajoo Bhatkal, Vishwanath M, Abhishek Bhat, Rohan Raju, Koushik V, Varun Pandit, Nikin Jose, Sharath Srinivas.
J Arun Kumar – Coach
Chetan Williams – Coach
Sasi Kumar – Fielding coach
Anutosh Poll – CEO
Irfanullah Khan – Trainer
Santosh – Video analyst
Daniel Perera – Physio
Mohan Raju, Venkateshwar Rao – Team Owner