War­riors have a new star in Nabibakhsh

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Nilesh.Bhattar­charya @times­group.com

Kolkata: Dur­ing the PKL Sea­son-7 auc­tion in July, Bengal War­riors man­age­ment did a cou­ple of things which took ev­ery­one by sur­prise. First, they splurged a purse of Rs 77.75 lakh to bring on board the Ira­nian all­rounder Mo­ham­mad Nabibakhsh, who had a base price of just Rs 10 lakh, thus mak­ing him the most ex­pen­sive for­eigner in the on­go­ing sea­son. Se­condly, they showed no in­ter­est in re­tain­ing South Korean star Lee Jangkun as the top-scor­ing for­eigner in the PKL his­tory went to Patna Pi­rates, end­ing his sixsea­son as­so­ci­a­tion with the War­riors.

War­riors coach BC Ramesh — who had played with Bengal’s Biswa­jit Palit in the 1998 Asian Games — later jus­ti­fied the move, say­ing it would bring “a much-needed bal­ance” in the team which is search­ing for the elu­sive ti­tle. Over half­way stage of the sev­enth sea­son, Nabibakhsh re­paid the faith in him by the coach, play­ing a cru­cial role in tak­ing his team to the brink of seal­ing a play­off spot. Bengal are cur­rently at sec­ond spot with 58 points from 15 matches, just a point be­hind league lead­ers Da­bang Delhi.

Nabibakhsh, how­ever, is not an un­known en­tity to the fol­low­ers the game. He was a spot­light stealer dur­ing Iran’s his­toric tri­umph at the Jakarta Asian Games last year, break­ing In­dia’s dom­i­na­tion.

“We set­tled for sil­ver in the pre­vi­ous two Asian Games, los­ing to In­dia on both oc­ca­sions (in 2006 and 2010) be­fore the Jakarta Games. In­dia were so pow­er­ful that a sil­ver looked like a gold for us then. But our mind­set has changed now.”

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