Pro Kabaddi 2019 Preview: Can Bengaluru Bulls retain their title in Season 7?
VIVO Pro Kabaddi has been a platform that has produced some of the finest players in the sport of Kabaddi. In an exhilarating finish to Season 6, Bengaluru Bulls won a thrilling encounter against Gujarat Fortune Giants (38-33), courtesy of Pawan Sehrawat's game-changing 22 raid points.
Bengaluru Bulls in Season 7 looks the same in comparison to the previous season with the core remaining intact. Retaining Pawan Sehrawat, Rohit Kumar and Ashish Sangwan cost them 49% of their total purse which led them to stay silent on Day 1 of the Pro Kabaddi League auction. The head coach, Randhir Singh has shown immense confidence in Ashish Sangwan season after season which will act as a boost in confidence as a player despite having an average performance last season as well.
Mahender Singh got retained by the Bulls at ₹80 lakhs in Category A defenders list with the use of FBM card. 'The Bulldozer' scored 63 tackle points in 24 matches last season at an average of 2.625 tackle point. The team management will look to have him as their primary defender who'll lead the defensive strategies for the team.
It is clear that Bengaluru has a wide gap in their option for a third raider after they opted to release Kashiling Adake as he scored 66 raid points in 20 matches last season out of 164 raids only. However, without Kashiling, the team looks as if they lack a proper all-rounder who could help Bengaluru in the defensive area as well.
Pawan Sehrawat and Rohit Kumar scored approx. 79.16% of the total raid points for Bulls in Season 6 (433 raid points combined) and the team's overall performance will highly depend on this raiding duo in Season 7. Their third raider will likely be Sumit Singh who will be representing Bulls after two consecutive seasons. Vinod Kumar who represented Bengal Warriors in Season 5 surprised everybody with his exciting jumps could also get chance to represent his former team this time.
Amit Sheoran had a decent season last year with 38 tackle points in 15 matches allowing him to be the priority pick in the left corner position over Sandeep. For the right corner defense, they've bagged Raju Lal Chaudhary and Vijay Kumar who will aim to provide some quality tackles throughout the group stages. Bulls paid ₹21.25 lakhs to the Services player who represented Patna Pirates and Tamil Thalaivas previously, Vijay Kumar will likely get considered for the right corner.
Bengaluru Bulls have let go of their former assistant coach, BC Ramesh under whom the defense also did pretty well last season as he used his defenders to their highest capability.
Bulls have also signed some new young players like Banty (raider), Aman (left corner) and Mohit Sehrawat (right cover) who had a terrific outing during Khelo India Youth Games. Nepali players namely Lal Mohar Yadav (raider) and Sanjay Shrestha (all-rounder) could be used as substitutes if things don't go accordingly.
Despite having many defenders, Bengaluru lacks proper backup for someone like Ashish Sangwan and Amit Sheoran which could hurt them a bit in the mid-season as Pro Kabaddi is a 3-month long tournament where an injury or lack of form could stop them from the race to playoffs.
Same like last season, Bengaluru will revolve around how Pawan Sehrawat, Rohit Kumar and Mahender Singh perform for the team this season. One of them getting out of touch could be the difference between them and their second title chase.
Probable Playing 7 for Bengaluru Bulls in Season 7
Vijay Kumar (Right Corner), Sumit Singh (Right In), Ashish Sangwan (Right Cover), Pawan Sehrawat (Center), Mahender Singh (Left Cover), Rohit Kumar (Left In) and Amit Sheoran (Left Corner)