Pro Kabaddi 2016, Season 4: Bengal Warriors find themselves in free fall
With one-third of the 4th season gone, only one team has played more than the 5 matches than the Bengal Warriors have and that team, Puneri Paltan, sits at the top of the table. Bengal Warriors sit exactly seven places below them and luckily for them, that’s the last spot that can be occupied. Had there been slots below 8th in the league table, the Warriors might have found themselves there as well. That’s the kind of kabaddi they have played this season.
A night after they were humbled by U Mumba, the team had its best chance to turn around their failing fortunes against Telugu Titans, who had lost all three contests before the match. But what transpired in the 40 minutes of the game was another inept and abysmal display by the team from the east which saw them going down to Telugu Titans by a massive margin.
The team had started the last season brilliantly with 5 wins out of their first six matches. But, in season 4, the last couple of matches have exposed to what shameful levels was the team dependent on their star raider Jang Kun Lee, in whose absence the team hasn’t looked half the side it does when the Korean is present. It is as if there are two teams of Bengal Warriors – one that has Jang Kun Lee and the other that just makes up the numbers in the star raider’s absence.
The team is guilty of not supporting the raider well enough in the first few games when he was there but is more guilty of playing extremely defensively in his absence. The team’s defence, which was strengthened ahead of the 4th season, and looks good on paper, has unfailingly failed to live up to its reputation.
The sad part for the Warriors’ fan isn’t that they are losing, but the fact that they don’t exhibit the hunger to go all out to win, even if the result doesn’t come in their favour eventually. The opening game against Bengaluru Bulls saw the Warriors in commanding position till the 36th minute, where they led 22-15. But in next 4 minutes, the defence fell apart completely in the face of Rohit Kumar’s raids.
The nervousness rubbed off on to the raiders as well as Nitin Madane and Monu Goyat failed to convert the raids and while the Bulls racked up 9 points in the period, the Warriors could get a solitary point. The match ended in a heart crushing defeat for Warriors and gave ample signs of what was to follow.
Although they did get a win against Dabang Delhi, a win that raised hopes despite the quality of opposition, they have looked the most undeserving team to be in the tournament after that match. Probably, the ghosts of the first defeat still haunt the team as they have looked extremely defensive in the subsequent contests. But it clearly isn’t working as a strategy for them. The combinations aren’t working for the team despite having some impressive talent in the form of Ravi Dalal and Nitin Madane.
With the kind of performance they have given in the last few games, the team has pushed itself into a grave and the next three contests, one against defending champions Patna Pirates and two against table toppers Puneri Paltan will make it clear whether the Warriors fight on or become the whipping boys of the tournament.
But one thing is for sure, a fearless brand of kabaddi is what the fans hope to see from the cornered warriors. They get some time before they’re back in the thick of the things in the Patna leg and coach Pratap Shetty needs to regroup the side quickly. The light at the end of the tunnel, otherwise, is dimming soon for the Warriors.