Bengaluru Bulls have had a mixed start to their season so far. The defending champions began on a winning note by narrowly defeating three-time champions Patna Pirates 34-32.
However, they were in for a reality check at the hands of the Gujarat Fortunegiants — the team they defeated in the 2018 season final to win their maiden title — who handed them a 42-24 loss to remind them of the areas of improvement.
Their fixtures in the Hyderabad leg coming to an end, the team travels to Mumbai next, where they take on the home side on Sunday, 28 July. For a lot of members of the Bulls squad though, it is the fixtures in the Bengaluru leg this season that they will especially be looking forward to.
After a gap of two seasons, the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) finally returns to Bengaluru with matches taking place at the Sree Kantareeva Stadium in the 'Garden City' this season, and for fans as well as the players themselves, this is something of a homecoming.
"We had been missing out on our home matches in the last two seasons, and were quite happy to hear that we would get to play in front of the Bangalore crowd this year. The entire team is excited to go and play at their home ground. We were missing out on their love and support," said Bengaluru Bulls captain Rohit Kumar.
"The support that one receives at their home ground matters a lot. The chants and noise from the spectators does boost a team’s morale. They had been waiting for two years for their team to come home. I’m sure they’ll be delighted with the Bengaluru Bulls returning to their base. Their support and love only makes us happier," added Rohit.
Rohit's teammate, Bengaluru Bulls star raider Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, has a similar take on the issue, saying that the absence of Bengaluru from the venues list in the last couple of seasons had been felt in the form of a relatively insipid reception.
"Feeling quite happy about it. We had been missing the support of the Bangalore crowd, and that wish of ours has finally been fulfilled. We didn’t get the kind of love and support at the Pune leg as we would in the Bengaluru leg this season."
Sehrawat had a memorable run in the 2018 season, playing a central role in the Bulls' 38-33 win over Fortunegiants in grand finale with a 22-point performance. The cherry on top of the cake was him walking away with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the end of the season.
Asked if his performance in the final was his standout moment from the season, Sehrawat had a different take.
"It obviously becomes a memorable moment because it was the final after all, and it cannot get any bigger than that. However, the first match of the season, against Tamil Thalaivas, was also important, and that is what I consider my turning moment," said the star raider, who acknowledges the role of captain Rohit as well as team head coach Randhir Singh in his growth as a player since joining the Bulls.
For many athletes across various team sports, the task of leading a side can often become a burden and can lead to the player's individual performance taking a hit as a result.
Not Rohit though, who believes captaincy barely interferes in his skills as a player and is something that every player should learn over the course of his/her career.
"Captaincy is something everyone should learn. Guiding a team and taking them forward, winning and losing matches and raising a team’s morale in the most difficult of times.
"Pointing out areas of improvement to players. Things like these, as well as motivating one’s teammates, are what should be learnt by everyone. Will only prove beneficial for the player in the end.
"Never had a problem with captaincy, and never felt stressed out. A lot of players aren’t able to perform as individuals due to the burden of captaincy but not me," added Rohit.
The Bulls have only just managed to add their name to the list of PKL champions. The championship's begun and the players are already in the zone as far as giving their best on the mat is concerned. There is however a part of them still relishing the taste of victory.
"Took us three seasons to get here. Took us a while to get the trophy, and we’re now relishing the feeling of being champions in the league," said Sehrawat, who has a huge role to play in his team's fortunes this year should they hope of making it two years in a row.
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2019 22:20:46 IST