Under the leadership of the fearless Bharath Chipli and master-strategist Deepak Chougule, Bijapur Bulls look set to scale new heights.
After weeks of training and preparation, the Bijapur Bulls will stride out for their first appearance of the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017 at the Gangotri Glades today. Waiting to battle them are home turf heroes, Mysuru Warriors.
The hosts registered their first win of the tournament when they got the better of a lackluster Bengaluru Blasters in a truncated match at Bengaluru on September 2. Bijapur Bulls will be wary of the head start that the Warriors have, notwithstanding the fact that the Karun Nair led side will play to home crowd advantage.
The Bijapur Bulls squad for 2017 has a strong mixture of youth and experience. The team is packed with cricketers with dual abilities – lethal seam-bowlers that can strike it big and match-winning spinners that can swing the match in their favor with the bat.
The fast-bowling unit will be led by the experienced Abhimanyu Mithun. With over 250 first-class wickets, the 27-year-old Test cricketers are one of the best in the business in the domestic circuit. His ability to move the new ball at the outset and then push the batsmen on the back foot with raw pace will be a real asset for the Bulls.
Mithun will be supported by Ronit More and HS Sharath. The duo is at the peak of their fitness and has been racking up the pace in practice. Naveen MG will lend vital support to the speedsters in the seam-up department. With plenty of options in the fast-bowling arsenal, skipper Bharath Chipli will have a speedster to call upon at any given point of time.
If the IPL 2017 taught us anything, it was that the spinners can really cause havoc in this format of the game. Bijapur Bulls is well served in the spin department as well. The popular KC Carriappa will drive the efforts here. “Carri” hurls the ball with a flat trajectory and batsmen are ever so wary of his ability to turn the ball both ways and get the occasional one to skid onto the bat.
With the bulk of the batsmen being right-handed, spinners moving the ball away can be a potent force at any stage of the game. And it is precisely with this foresight that the Bijapur Bulls squad has drafted three left-arm orthodox spinners. Prithviraj is accurate and turns the ball just enough to trouble the batsmen looking to attack. And if the tall Rishabh Singh has the ability to turn and extract bounce from the track, the diminutive yet feisty Rajath Hedge makes up for lack of height with loads of grit.
The format, needless to say, is tailor made for batting and the Bijapur Bulls team is packed with batsmen capable of lusty blows in any position. Their skipper, Bharath Chipli, would lead the charge at the top with the slightly built but big hitting Mohammed Taha. The team would bank of this duo to take them off to a flier in the first few overs. All-rounders Naveen MG and Dikshanshu Negi will lend cover to the top order while the talented Nidhish Mohanram will hold the middle-order together with wicket-keeper batsman Kiran.
What plays out in the favor of Bijapur Bulls is that they have a seemingly endless tail. From Nidhish in the middle-order to number 11, every single one of them that wield the willow with flair. Add to this the all-round abilities of Negi, Naveen, Prithviraj and you have a potent batting force in Bijapur Bulls.
The first match of the tournament is always important for any side and a win will cement the confidence of a team that has put in the hard yards on and off the field this past month since the auctions. In addition to rigorous fielding, nets and fitness sessions, the team has adopted alternative methods of training in the form of group and individual visualization training and mindfulness training for visualization. This coupled with an excursion to Bandipur ensured the team bonded as a unit and set unified goals for KPL 2017.
With all the training done and strategies in place, Bijapur Bulls is primed to charge with a no-holds-barred approach. Their campaign holds more than just promise for, they are a team that can sting and dent every other side this year.