The Bengal Warriors head into the eighth edition of the PKL as the reigning champions. They were the most consistent performers in both the raiding and defensive departments last season. Bengal won the final by beating Dabang Delhi K.C. in a thrilling final.
Skipper Maninder Singh and stand-by captain Mohammad Nabibakhsh were both sensational in their respective duties last season. While Maninder ended up as the fifth-highest scorer of PKL 7 with 205 raid points, Nabibakhsh led the team in the knockouts and scored 122 crucial points for the side.
The corner duo of Baldev Singh and Rinku Narwal notched up 131 tackle points and 10 High 5s and played a pivotal role in the defense to take the Bengal Warriors across the winning line.
Former Indian captain BC Ramesh will continue to essay the role of the head coach for the defending champions this season. Ahead of the PKL Auction 2021, the Bengal Warriors retained their core with Maninder Singh, Mohammad Nabibakhsh and Rinku Narwal as their Elite Retained Players (ERP). Ravindra Ramesh Kumawat was their solo Retained Young Player (RYP) for PKL 8.
Here's an in-depth look at the Bengal Warriors squad for PKL Season 8 through a SWOT analysis:
SWOT analysis of Bengal Warriors PKL 8 squad
The Bengal Warriors have yet again managed to assemble an offensive unit with immense depth who are proven match-winners. With Maninder Singh as their frontline raider, Mohammad Nabibakhsh might likely be promoted as his support raider.
The team can swap between the likes of Sukesh Hegde, Ravindra Kumawat, Sumit Singh and Akash Pikalmunde as their third raiders. The Bengal Warriors also added veteran Rishank Devadiga to their ranks, who can play in any given circumstances as the team requires. This shows how the Bengal Warriors can keep the scoreboard ticking and never fall behind even if someone gets injured.
The Bengal Warriors purchased Abozar Mighani at a bargain price of just ₹30.5 lakhs at the auction. The Bengal Warriors have bolstered their defense with him and Rinku Narwal in the corners, as both defenders can threaten the opposition with their precise defensive skills. The duo will anchor the defense for the Warriors in PKL 8, which will be exciting to watch.
The Bengal Warriors' major weakness in the upcoming season is their lack of cover defenders, which was also their concern back in the seventh edition. Having released Jeeva Kumar ahead of the auction, the Bengal Warriors have signed Vijin Thangadurai, Parveen and Darshan J for their covers, who haven't sparked much in previous seasons.
The problem with plenty doesn't seem to worry the Bengal Warriors much. However, they will need to determine their best frontline players and the substitutions for the upcoming season and try to avoid too many changes in the line-up to deliver consistent performances yet again.
Coach BC Ramesh is an excellent coach who nurtures young players and turns them into match-winners. Under his guidance, players have showcased their true potential on the big stage, which is a perfect opportunity for the budding youngsters from the Warriors this season.
Given their sensational performances in the summit clash last season, the likes of Sukesh Hegde and Ravindra Kumawat could have more chances to feature in the starting seven this season. This season could also prove to be crucial for Rishank Devadiga, as he will play freely without the price tag pressure on him in PKL 8.
The pressure of defending the title in the Pro Kabaddi League has led teams to crumble under the weight of their own expectations in the past. Out of all four franchises that have won the title before the Bengal Warriors, only Patna Pirates have managed to win the trophy on more than one occasion.
While attempting to rekindle their glory for a second consecutive time, PKL teams have often exited early the following season. The Bengal Warriors will have to be wary of something similar happening to the franchise as they try to avoid going off track in the upcoming season of the PKL.
The rest of the teams could fancy their chances of winning the PKL trophy this season. However, the Bengal Warriors definitely have a team to make it two in a row in the eighth season of the PKL.