Bijapur Bulls, Team Profile: Consistent Bijapur confident of another trophy tilt
Bengaluru, 19 August 2017: There was a discernible pattern in how Bijapur Bulls went about the player auctions of the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies.
Their targets were of assured, top-level quality, but were understated in nature. At the end of the auctions, their most costly acquisition was Mohammed Taha at Rs 5 lakh, while the big names in the squad were Abhimanyu Mithun, HS Sharath and captain Bharath Chipli.
“We didn't want to buy the heroes,” Kiran Kattimani, the team owner, says with pride while speaking of his team’s auction strategy. “We believe in making heroes. That is the main purpose behind the strategy we adopted for the auctions. We're happy with the squad. We are known for ‘rags to riches’ stories and we want to continue creating more such stories.”
The ‘rags to riches’ mention is pertinent, the most famous example being that of KC Cariappa, who impressed so much after Bijapur picked him in 2014 that he was the subject of a multiple-crore bid from Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Cariappa has been with Bijapur since the tournament was reinstated in 2014. The likes of Mithun and Chipli have been with the squad in previous seasons as well. Mr Kattimani admitted that retaining the core group was central to their plans for the sixth edition of the tournament.
Along with Cariappa, the likes of Mithun, Sharath and Ronit More ensure that Bijapur have a strong bowling attack that has ample pace and movement, along with a more than a dollop of mystery spin. In Taha, Bijapur have a promising young opener who made a habit of scoring big last season, with a streak of high scores, including an 89 against Bijapur themselves. Dikshanshu Negi, for whom Bijapur spent Rs 4.9 lakh, and Naveen MG (Rs 4.2 lakh) bring all-round skills to the line-up, while it will be up to Chipli to lead from the front.
Chipli was earlier this week seen leading them in a yoga session – a part of the team’s bid to be well-prepared come September. The 34-year-old has a wealth of experience, ranging from first-class cricket in Karnataka to playing for Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.
Kattimani said he was the obvious choice to lead the side. “Bharath Chipli has been a prominent figure in the domestic circuit for a considerable period of time now and brings a wealth of local knowledge. Having played with and groomed the players over the years, he is well-versed with their abilities and is best suited to lead the team’s campaign this year.”
Apart from the known names, Bijapur also has an array of youngsters from the state Under-22 and Under-19 squads, many of them with all-round abilities. Bijapur’s intentions are clear: while they want a repeat of the 2015 campaign, when they won the KPL trophy, they also want to help these youngsters in their endeavours to take the next step in their careers.
“We are going all out,” says Kattimani. “We've done a good job in nurturing mofussil talent and therefore, IPL teams like Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders have reached out (to us) in the past, asking us to lend them mofussil talent as net bowlers. This year, we want at least three to four IPL teams enquiring with Bijapur Bulls to give them raw talent.”
Bijapur have been with the KPL since its inception in 2009, and over the years, they have earned a reputation as one of the most consistent sides in the league, qualifying for the semi-final stages thrice.
That they didn’t manage to last season surprised many, but it is one wrong they are determined to correct this time around.
Squad (from): Bharath Chipli (capt), Ronit More, Mohammed Taha, KC Cariappa, HS Sharath, Abhimanyu Mithun, Rishab Singh, Rajat Hegde, Kiran AM, Dikshanshu Negi, M Nidish, Praveen, Naveen MG, Prithviraj Shekawat, Raj Atul Gala, GM Rishab, S Prashanth, Lal Sachin.
Head coach – Deepak Chougule
Assistant coach – V Cheluvaraj
Bowling coach – Prabhakar Bairgond
Physiotherapist – Prabhu
Trainer – Pradeep Gowda
Team Owner – Kiran Kattimani, Vivid Kreations.