“The entire team is upset because they can’t perform at home,” Bulls coach Randhir Singh said. “The love we get in Bengaluru, we don’t find anywhere else. We lost all our matches here last year and the players were looking forward to proving their worth to the crowd,” said the veteran trainer and a celebrated former India international.
Bulls owner Uday Sinh Wala said the team would miss local support but admitted his hands were tied. “The best fans are from Bengaluru. They are knowledgeable and supportive. It is rare. I didn’t want to go to another franchise’s home and conduct matches there. That’s why we chose Nagpur. We will now work towards making it our home. We explored the possibility of Mysuru and Mangaluru but facilities didn’t meet our requirements and it would have meant logistical problems for all teams.” The Bengaluru side, despite finishing the two editions of the league in 2016 in seventh and sixth place respectively, remained bullish about its prospects in this year’s edition which begins with the Hyderabad leg on July 28. Bulls will stage their home leg from August 4-10 in Nagpur. Randhir and Uday said the team’s auction strategy had reflected their intentions to improve.
“The idea was to get the right mix of youth and seasoned players. We have a good balance now,” said Uday, picking the likes of skipper Rohit Kumar, Ravinder Pahal and Preetam Chhillar as key players. “We have quite a few who have 10-12 years of high-level experience. We are hoping to build a core with a retention policy that allows us to have players for multiple seasons. The challenge will be to not only ensure physical fitness but mental fitness too as teams are not used to three months of continuous action,” he said.
Randhir said the franchise had planned its strategy 15 days before the auction. “Rohit Kumar and Ajay Kumar are among the top eight raiders in the country. Ajay was one of the best players in the Federation Cup this year. Two of our all-rounders have won ‘Best Player’ awards in regional tournaments this year. Sachin Kumar, our left corner is a national gold medallist. We planned to have two players for each position. The focus also was on getting young players and developing their skills to handle the rigours of a longer tournament,” he pointed out.
Uday said the team’s fitness regimen and mental conditioning was another factor that required careful thought considering the length of the tournament. “We have doubled our support staff to include two physios, two masseurs, two fitness trainers and two managers. There’s a different regimen now that the event is longer in order to keep players in shape and maintain intensity,” he said. “All our programmes are well thought out. Analysis is an ongoing process. We want to get the youngsters to think aggressively so that they are ready for the challenge. Our staff takes on additional roles to help in mental preparation. We need to address that as it has been an issue in the past three seasons,” he said.
Source : timesofindia