Pro Kabaddi Season 7: Team analysis of Bengal Warriors
The Bengal Warriors' outfit is one that has managed to continually improve with each season, from having hit rock bottom in season four of the Pro Kabaddi League to entering the qualifiers of season five and the eliminator in season six.
In season five, under the leadership of ace cover defender Surjeet Singh, the Warriors made it to the playoffs for the first time and retained their skipper for the sixth season, along with quality raider Maninder Singh.
However, ahead of the season seven auctions, the Bengal Warriors pulled a rabbit out of the hat as they opted to retain the services of Maninder Singh along with the retentions of young stars such as Ravindra Ramesh Kumawat, Baldev Singh and Adarsh T.
With the likes of Jang Kun Lee and skipper Surjeet Singh released from the squad, the onus was on the Warriors' management to build a core around Maninder Singh.
How did the Bengal Warriors fare in the auctions?
The Warriors were all over the headlines right from the start of the auctions as they made the second costliest foreign player purchase in the history of the league when they landed a ₹77.75 lakh bid for Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh and followed it up by signing compatriot Mohammad Taghi for ₹15.5 lakh.
With Nabibakhsh set to complement Maninder Singh, the focus was soon shifted to adding might to the defensive unit as the Warriors signed up veteran defender Jeeva Kumar (₹31 lakh) and exciting corner defender Rinku Narwal (₹20 lakh).
Just as a final incentive to beef up the raiding unit, the Warriors also procured the services of seasoned raider K Prapanjan for ₹55.5 lakhs as they rounded up their opening day purchases.
On the second day, the Warriors looked aggressive as they signed AR Avinash (₹10 lakh), Amit Dhumal (₹10 lakh) and Dharmendra Singh (₹10 lakh) before using their 'Final Bid Match' cards on retaining the services of Rakesh Narwal and also added Amit to their roster for ₹16.25 lakh and ₹17.5 lakh respectively.
From the unsold players' list, Sukesh Hegde (₹20 lakh) and Viraj Vishnu Landge (₹10 lakh) attracted bids from the Warriors while Bhuvneshwar Gaur's skill in crucial moments for the Steelers last season earned him a ₹10 lakh contract with the Bengal Warriors.
What could be some problems the Warriors might face?
The Bengal Warriors have a solid looking raiding unit boasting of the likes of Maninder Singh, K Prapanjan, Mohammad Nabibakhsh, and Sukesh Hegde but the real problem could lie in their defensive unit's lack of star players.
While Jeeva Kumar certainly brings in the experience to the team, he was not in the best of touch for the UP Yoddha last season and with Baldev Singh proving to be too aggressive, the Warriors might miss the value of Surjeet Singh or Ran Singh in the squad.
Bengal Warriors full squad:
Raiders: Maninder Singh, Ravindra Ramesh Kumawat, Mohammad Taghi, K Prapanjan, Sukesh Hegde, Amit Kumar, Rakesh Narwal, Bhuvneshwar Gaur.
All-Rounders: Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, Amir Santosh Dhumal, AR Avinash,
Defenders: Jeeva Kumar, Baldev Singh, Adarsh T, Viraj Landge, Rinku Narwal, Vijin Thangadurai, Dharmendra Singh, Sahil (NYP).