Kolkata, the ‘City of Joy’, is home to two of the biggest sports in India – Cricket and Football. It is here that the two games flourished and reached the pinnacles of popularity. Then may it be Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Kolkata Knight Riders, or ATK, teams have always received loads of love from the fans from West Bengal. There is one team which truly shares the spirit of the Bengal – ‘Bengal Warriors’.
Unfortunately, the Warriors have failed to channel their inner Bengal Tiger in the first six seasons, failing to even make it to the final in any of the seasons. But with big bucks spent in the 2019 auction, they will be eager to change that. Here is everything you need to know about the Bengal Warriors before the season 7 of PKL kicks-off:
About Bengal Warriors
|Owner||Future Group and Akshay Kumar|
|Home Ground||Netaji Indoor Stadium|
Bengal Warriors Players List 2019
|Player||Playing Position||Age||Price (₹ lakh)|
|Jeeva Kumar||Defender - Right and left cover||38||31|
|Dharmendra Singh||Defender - Left Corner||25||10|
|Viraj Vishnu Landge||Defender - Left cover||26||10|
|Vijin Thangadurai||Defender - Right cover||29||10|
|Sahil||Defender - Right Cover||-|
|Amit Kumar||Defender - Right Corner||21||17.5|
|Baldev Singh||Defender - Right Corner||26||12|
|Adarsh T||Defender - Left Corner||-|
|Mohammad Taghi Paeinmahalli||Raider||27||15.5|
|Ravindra Ramesh Kumawat||Raider||23||6.6|
|Amir Santosh Dhumal||All-Rounder||27||15.5|
|Avinash A. R.||All-Rounder||28||10|
|Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh||All-Rounder||28||77.75|
Founded in 2014, Bengal Warriors is one of the least successful teams in the league. The team has made it to the semi-finals in the January 2016 edition and playoffs in 2017 and 2018. But they have never won a single game in the knockout stages, failing to qualify for the final in any of their three attempts.
Lee Jang-Kun of South Korea was the only player to represent the Warriors in the first six seasons. But the franchise decided not to retain the South Korean for the seventh season.
Owners of Bengal Warriors
The VIP box at the Warriors game is always a point of attraction with some of the big names as the team’s owners. The team is co-owned by the Future Group and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. The Khiladi became the co-owner of the team in 2017.
The owners have worked in tandem with West Bengal unit of AKFI and the West Bengal Sports Ministry to promote the game and to find players at the grass root level.
Having Future Group as co-owners certainly helps in attracting sponsors for the team. Future Group is a parent organization of a number of brands, which have sponsored the warriors for the past six years. For the seventh season, Future Pay is the team’s title sponsors and Spunk, Sportswear brand of the Future Group is the kit manufacturer. Fashion at Big Bazaar (FBB) is yet another sponsor from the same group.
The Warriors have managed to gain popularity in the Indian market, partnering with Buffalo (Fashion Partners), Karmiq (Nutrition Partner), Koryo (Electronic Partner), Tasty Treats (Snack Partner) and Clean Mate (Hygiene Partner).
Coach of Bengal Warriors
Join us to welcome the Arjuna Award Winner, Kabaddi World Cup Winner, Asian Games Gold Medalist – BC Ramesh as our Coach for @ProKabaddi Season 7.#JordaarKabaddi #AamarWarriors#JordaarKabaddi #AamarWarriors pic.twitter.com/aAT4ZXAPps
— Bengal Warriors (@BengalWarriors) March 20, 2019
BC Ramesh was announced as Bengal Warrior’s head coach for the upcoming season back in March. Former Indian player and Asian Games Gold medallist has ample experience of coaching in the Pro Kabaddi League. Ramesh has coached Puneri Paltan in 2017 and the title-winning Bengaluru Bulls in 2018.
The World Cup winner has also been awarded the Arjuna Award by the Government of India.
Performance in PKL
As mentioned earlier, the Warriors have never made it to the final of the Pro Kabaddi League. Although, they did manage to qualify for semi-finals in January 2016 and two consecutive playoffs in 2017 and 2018 season.
The debut season was far from perfect for Bengal Warriors, as they finished 7th in the league. They managed just 4 wins in 14 games and finished with 24 points and a score difference of -85. The only team to win fewer games in the first season was Puneri Paltan, who finished last.
The second season was no better for the Warriors as they could manage only 4 wins in 14 games once again. Thanks to their score difference of -63, 5 better than Dabang Delhi, the Warriors finished one place higher than the first season after both teams were tied on 27 points.
But for two seasons in a row, Bengal’s defensive approach was the reason for their disastrous performance.
Bengal’s fortunes finally changed in the third edition of the Pro Kabaddi League. The team managed 9 wins in 14 games – more than the combined number of wins in the first two seasons. Bengal finished the group stage with 47 points and finished 4th in the table to qualify for the semi-finals of the league for the first time in the team’s history.
Facing the previous year’s champions U Mumba, Bengal’s inexperience at the knockout stages cost them in the semi-final. The Warriors lost 29-41 to U Mumba. In the third place game against Puneri Paltan, Bengal faced yet another defeat to finish 4th overall in the January 2016 edition.
Less than six months after their best ever performance, the Warriors went back to being their old-self in the fourth season. Bengal finished at the bottom of the table, their worst performance in PKL to this date. They won just 3 games out of 14 at the group stages and finished with 26 points.
After a horrible display in the fourth season, Bengal needed to make serious changes to their team. And they brought in Jagdish Kumble as the team’s head coach, who delivered Bengal’s best season in the history of PKL.
Playing in Zone B of the now extended league, Bengal were on fire right from the start. They won 11 out of 22 games in the group stage and finished at the top of Zone B with 77 points. After finishing at the top, Bengal had two shots at the final in the playoffs. But the Warriors somehow managed to squander both opportunities, losing 17-42 to Gujarat Fortune Giants in the 1st qualifier and 44-47 to the eventual winners, Patna Pirates in qualifier 2.
Bengal finished 3rd in the overall ranking in the fifth season. Surjeet Singh was the star player of the team who finished with 76 tackle points, second best in the league.
The sixth season was a similar tale for Bengal Warriors – Exceptional in Zone B, disappointing in playoffs.
The team finished second in Zone B this time, with 12 wins and 69 points in 22 games. But in the Eliminator 1 against Dabang Delhi, the Warriors streak of bad performances at the playoffs continued with a 28-39 defeat. Maninder Singh was Bengal’s best raider with 206 points, 4th best in the league.
Records of Bengal Warriors
Bengal has retained two elite players for the seventh season of PKL. Team’s best raider in the sixth season, Maninder Singh is one of them along with right corner defender Baldev Singh. Bengal also retained two young players, Adarsh T and Ravindra Kumawat and signed yet another youngster, Sahil, right cover defender.
In the auction, Mohammad Nabi Bakhsh, an Irani all-rounder, who hasn’t played in PKL to this date, was Bengal’s most expensive buy at ₹77.75 lakh. The franchise will have their fingers crossed for their gamble to work. Raider K Prapanjan was also singed for ₹55.5 lakh.
Home Stadium of Bengal Warriors
Bengal Warriors play their home matches at the famous Netaji Indoor Stadium. The stadium has the capacity of 12,000 people and has hosted Tennis and Basketball competition as well.
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Get your chants ready, mark your dates and prepare to roar with the warriors! ?
— Bengal Warriors (@BengalWarriors) June 21, 2019
Bengal will look to continue their form in the group stage just like the last two seasons. But the team desperately needs to get rid of their play-offs blues to make it to the final for the first time. The Warriors will face Up Yoddha in their first game of the season on 24th July.