Bengaluru, Sep 7: Having been in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) fray since its inception in the year 2009, the Bijapur Bulls have been one of the consistent teams in the tournament. Barring a 7th place finish in the second season, the Bulls have qualified for the semi-finals on all other occasions. This time around, the team will kick-start the 2016 edition of the league as the defending champions. (Know your team - Hubli Tigers)
The Bijapur Bulls were a major force to be reckoned with last season, having lost just one game en route to lifting their maiden KPL trophy. (Retained players' list)
During their victorious campaign the Bulls delivered the goods in all fields. In the batting department, Robin Uthappa, who was man of the series, played the anchor role, guiding his team to formidable totals and keeping his calm during tense run chases. Giving him much-needed support in the middle was 23-year old Ravikumar Samarth. The youngster felt that the biggest positive of the team last season was their energy on the field.
"We had a well-balanced side. But we stood out in the fielding department. We dropped only two catches in the entire tournament and saved quite a lot of runs," he said.
Speaking on the mind set going into the tournament, Samarth remarked that there was no added pressure on the squad, despite being the defending champions.
"There is no pressure. All teams are good and have an equal chance. If we play the entire tournament well, I think we will win."
Among the bowlers, no other player has made an impact like KC Cariappa. From being the third highest wicket taker in the 2014 edition to signing up for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL in 2015 to being the highest wicket-taker last season, Cariappa's cricketing career has certainly leaped exponentially over the last two years.
Talking about his preparation going into the new season, the youngster asserted that his fitness levels were up to the mark after the IPL tournament this year. "In a format like T20, maintaining fitness is extremely important," the 22-year old commented. The spinner heaped rich praise on teammate, Robin Uthappa and described him as a motivation for all the players in the team.
During the KPL auctions last month, the Bulls team management invested on emerging talents such as Arshdeep Singh Brar, who is a hard hitting batsman and off-spinner. Another smart buy was 17-year old all rounder Zahoor Farooqi.
Overall, the Bijapur Bulls have a solid batting unit, consisting of Uthappa, Samarth, Bharath Chipli and youngsters Naveen MG, Avinash KC and Brar, all capable of delivering on the big stage. The bowling unit which was a major positive last year has just the right combination of spin and pace this time too.
Bijapur Bulls coach, Rajashekar Shanbal believed that all teams were strong this year, while asserting that the defending champions could not afford to take anyone lightly. Even the Rockstars, Shanbal pointed out, were strong and well-balanced.
Team manager Sudhindra Shinde echoed the coach's words while adding that the new bunch of guys had tremendous potential. He further stated that the unity of the team was a huge factor with good interaction between junior and senior players. Shinde picked batsman Avinash KC as the player to look out for in the tournament.
In all four seasons thus far, the Bulls have had a rich blend of youth and experience. The proud owner of the team, Kiran Kattimani said the current squad was better than the champion side of last year as it had more young and energetic boys in the ranks.
Robin Uthappa (captain)
Sinan Abdul Khader
Arshdeep Singh Brar
Praveera Venkatesh Murthy
Kiran Kattimani - Owner
Sudhine Shinde - Team Manager
Rajshekar Shanbal - Head Coach
Jayanth Gowda- Assistant Coach
Nagendra Prasad - Ceo
Vijay Kumar C - Manager-Logistics
Manjunath - Physio
Rahul Bhatkal- Trainer
Srikkanth - Mentor
All matches of the Karbonn KPL 2016 will be telecast live on Sony Six