Upbeat Bengal face Bengaluru in PKL (preview)

Bengaluru, Feb 3 (IANS) Buoyed by their convincing win over Telugu Titans in their very first outing in the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League, a rejuvenated Bengal Warriors will look to upset Bengaluru Bulls on their home turf here on Thursday.

The visitors have proved that the home advantage can be overcome and will be looking to replicate the feat in the lone tie scheduled on the second day of the Bengaluru leg.

But their record against Bengaluru Bulls hasn’t been very good. In the four meetings that they have had in the league phase in the past seasons, the team from Kolkata have never won. Bengaluru thus have a major psychological advantage against a team who have started with a bang by beating the mighty Telugu Titans.

The hosts have also made an impressive start with a runaway victory over Dabang Delhi. Burly raider Surjeet Narwal, who is leading the Bengaluru Bulls, is expected to be one of the key factors against the Warriors. He is leading a young side who need a guiding figure and his abilities to shepherd his young teammates will be tested. Bengal Warriors are aware of Surjeet’s capabilities and he will be their prime target.

If the form of Bengal captain Nilesh Mane and new acquisition Girish Ernak, are any indication, then Surjeet may have to exercise a lot of caution so as not to fall prey to the deadly duo. Keeping Surjeet off the mat as long as possible should be the visitor’s motto. How the home team defence which does not match with that of their rivals, negates the threat of the superbly fit rival raider Nitin Tomar will also be keenly watched.

Nilesh and Girish play for Maharashtra and know each other well. A glance or an eye contact is enough for them to close down on rival raiders in a pincer movement from the corners. Nilesh is an intelligent player and is known to judge the opportune moment very well. The youthful Girish on the other hand is a daredevil. Add to this Nitin More and Bajirao Hodage and you have at the core of the Maharashtra team players who are known for being organised in defence.

The Bengaluru Bulls have banked on veteran Amit Rathi and Shrikant Tewthia who have come over from the Pune and Delhi sides respectively to make up for their losses. But these two are definitely not in the same class as Manjeet Chhillar and Ajay Thakur who had an aura of their own. They have to come good with Deepak Kumar Dahiya who came with a five-point super raid against Dabang Delhi.

The Bengal Warriors may have a surprise or two in store. In the opener they held back their foreign star, Jang Kun Lee of South Korea. Mahendra Rajput, the tall cop from Maharashtra, wasn’t impressive as Lee’s replacement and with Nitin Tomar and Mahesh Goud raiding well, bringing in Jang initially would help Bengal to get a hold on the proceedings.

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