Bengaluru Bulls had a promising start to their Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) journey, finishing in the fourth place and the runners-up position in the first two seasons. After failing to qualify in the next three editions, the Bulls were led to their maiden title in Season 6 by a combined effort from their captain Rohit Kumar and ace raider Pawan Sehrawat. In Season 7, they were strong enough to attain a playoffs spot but got eliminated in the semi-final against Dabang Delhi.
Bengaluru Bulls have been a prolific team in the PKL with top quality players having played for the side over the years. Here we take a look at three players whom Bengaluru Bulls should never have released:
#3 Ajay Thakur
The fourth-highest raid points scorer in PKL history - Ajay Thakur made a sensational start to his PKL career with Bengaluru Bulls. He attained 201 combined raid points with seven Super-10s which ensured a playoffs spot for the Bulls in the first two seasons.
Known for his extended reach to the midline and a unique style of escape, Thakur played a vital role in taking Bengaluru Bulls to the final in Season 2. However, the side lost to U Mumba by 30-36 in the final, despite having the likes of Manjeet Chhillar and Rajesh Mondal in their line-up.
The Bulls underwent a revamp in their line-up in Season 3 and lost Ajay Thakur in the process. Although Ajay struggled for the most part during his two-season campaign with Puneri Paltan, he stepped up as the captain of Tamil Thalaivas in the fifth season. He scored 213 raid points with 12 Super-10s in Season 5 and continued his dominance with 203 raid points with 7 Super-10s in the sixth edition. Since then, Ajay has gone on to become a leading raider in the PKL.
On the other hand, Bengaluru Bulls kept struggling with their raiding department since losing Ajay Thakur. They struggled to find a perfect raiding partner for Rohit Kumar as they got knocked out three times in a row until Season 6. It is now evident that Bengaluru Bulls highly regret releasing Ajay Thakur.
#2 Ravinder Pahal
Ravinder Pahal is known for his breathtaking thigh holds from the right corner position. He had a magnificent campaign in the second season of PKL, picking up 60 tackle points at an average of 3.78 that won him the 'Best Defender' award that year.
The Bulls signed Ravinder Pahal in Season 5, adding star power in their inconsistent defensive unit. He had a decent season with 52 tackle points at an average of 2.57 with 3 High-5s to his name. Even though the Bulls didn't qualify for the playoffs, Pahal ultimately proved to be surplus for them with Mahender Singh and Kuldeep Singh coming to the fore.
However, the Karnataka-based franchise hasn't been able to find a perfect right corner as a replacement for Ravinder Pahal since then. Bengaluru Bulls lack an experienced campaigner in the defense, which has been one of their weaknesses in the past two seasons. The 24-year-old Mahender Singh, who joined the Bulls in PKL 5, was their most experienced defender in the squad last year.
On the other hand, Ravinder Pahal has remained consistent in his two seasons with Dabang Delhi, scoring 59 and 63 tackle points. Pahal is also the second-most successful defender in PKL history, with 326 overall tackle points to his name. It is quite surprising that Bengaluru Bulls didn't retain Ravinder Pahal for a couple more seasons.
#1 Pardeep Narwal
Very few kabaddi fans know that the most successful raider of PKL, Pardeep Narwal made his debut with Bengaluru Bulls back in Season 2. Since then, he has become synonymous with Patna Pirates after single-handedly delivering three titles to the franchise.
Pardeep didn't get enough opportunities in his maiden season with the Bulls as he scored only nine raid points in six matches at an average of 1.5. The franchise didn't realize the caliber he possessed as Pardeep couldn't get enough opportunities with Ajay Thakur, Manjeet Chhillar, and Rajesh Mondal playing.
However, Bengaluru Bulls' loss was a massive gain for Patna Pirates as the young lad from Haryana became one of the best players in the entire competition. He has taken the kabaddi world by storm since then, scoring 1160 overall raid points with 59 Super-10s to his name at an average of 10.84. His remarkable performances have made Patna Pirates champions in a row from Season 3 to 5. Pardeep himself won the 'Most Valuable Player' award in Season 4 and 5.
Bengaluru Bulls can now only wonder what would have happened if they had retained him for just one more season.