Today we discuss about Benagluru FC’s defender Nishu Kumar. This article is a part of IFTWC’s Indian Player of the Season (IPS) series, where we talk about the best Indian player from each club.
The recently concluded season of Indian Super League saw promising Indian talents at left-back position toiling their heart out to defend for their respective sides. Be it, Jessel Carneiro at Kerala Blasters, ISL emerging player of the season awardee – young Sumit Rathi or the man we chose over Chhetri from Bengaluru FC – Nishu Kumar.
Bengaluru FC had lacked in a quality striker for the most part of their campaign, their foreign recruit after Miku’s departure – Manuel Onwu was not able to live up to the promise of scoring goals or pose a threat to the opposition. This unavoidable circumstance meant, the beast of burden was upon Chhetri to score, he was often found marked by 2-3 players, which cut off space for him. Eventually, he still managed to score as many goals as he did in the previous season (9). Out of those 3 being penalties & having failed to provide any assists in contrary to 3 in the 2018/19 season were the major reasons for not including him as the Indian Player of the season from Bengaluru FC, yet he remains as the best Indian striker the season had to offer.
The young boy from Muzaffarnagar had decent early days in his career at BFC. In the 2017/18 season, he played in just 9 games, compared to 18 out of 21 in 2018/19. From 23 touches per game in his first season to 47 in 2019/20. 0.75 clearances per game in his first season to 4 per game in the previous season. Nishu has been groomed well under the colours of Bengaluru in order to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Subhashis to Mumbai City.
Ever since Sunil Chhetri told him (when Nishu was selected by Bengaluru FC) about how, one can get away without portraying their best at the youth level, but has to deliver their 100% in senior level, Nishu Kumar has developed a knack of improvising himself come every season. And that reflects in the season by season stats mentioned below.
The Bengaluru FC’s 2019/20 season was the substandard one since they joined in 2017. If the lack of goal scoring forwards have been held accountable for the guilty party, the concrete defence of theirs saw no chinks in the armour. Bengaluru’s backline, embraced by Nishu’s maturity as well consistency, saw them concede the least number of goals in ISL (13).
Nishu is equipped with good readability of opposition’s mind and boasts physicality which helped him tackle 44 times and intercept 25 times. Along with good defending capabilities, Nishu is auxiliary at Cuadrat’s set-piece strategies, as he took 14 shots – second most from a Bengaluru FC defender after Juanan at 16. No Bengaluru FC faithful can fail to recall the absolute belter of a strike from Nishu against Hyderabad FC at the fortress, as the home side avenged their agonising 1-1 draw against the same side away from home.
After shedding light on the passing accuracy, turns out that Nishu has 79% accuracy compared to Juanan’s 78%. Nishu has also been able to put decent amount of searching long-balls for the overlapping wingers, where he has been successful for 58% of the times, which has come along with less possessive ball-game by Bengaluru.
The full-back although being just 5.9 foot tall, has won decent amount of areal duels (53%), compared to his two tall counterparts at center back – Serran(59%) & Juanan(60%).
Besides all proficiency, he has as a left-back, the 22-year-old knows how to take one for the team. It was the home leg of semifinal for Bengaluru against eventual champions ATK, when Nishu stopped the prolific striker from Fiji dead in his track, who was otherwise on his way to scoring his 15th Indian Super League goal in the 83rd minute of that game, Nishu was red-carded and the freekick later was blocked.
Nishu might no longer be plying his trade for Bengaluru as he is set to move to Kerala Blasters on a record deal for an Indian defender. He will move to a new frontier in his career – filled with opportunities and enough room to develop himself and prove his worth. Nishu will remember that phone call he received when he joined Bengaluru from Chhetri and will try to be the best version of himself every time he steps out on the pitch, under a new set-up and under a new philosophy.