Bansal's CV does not match up to those of his rivals - Charlesworth, Dancer and Oltmans have coached Olympic title-winning teams. But Bansal, a former junior national coach, is confident that he won't be out of his depth while coaching a squad that includes an Olympic gold medallist in Germany's Nicolas Jacobi and a runner-up in the Netherlands' Pirmin Blaak, both goalkeepers. The Delhi Waveriders' coach says he can draw on the experience of being part of a similar tournament - the Premier Hockey League (PHL).
Bansal was at the helm when the Orissa Steelers won the PHL title in 2007. The Dronacharya awardee is part of an all-Indian backroom set-up, which includes two-time Olympic bronze medallist Ajit Pal Singh as chief advisor and manager and former Olympian Sabu Varkey and international Dhananjay Mahadik as assistant coaches.
"As a coach I may not be as reputed as some of the others but I have the experience and the man management skills to bring the best out of the Indian and foreign players," Bansal says.
Incidentally, it was Charlesworth who was the Delhi Waveriders' first choice for head coach. The Australian subsequently signed up for the Mumbai Magicians ahead of last month's player auction.
Onus on players
Amar Sinha, CEO of the Wave Group that owns the rights of the Delhi franchise, says that the team had decided that if they couldn't rope in Charlesworth they would appoint a reputed Indian coach.
Delhi skipper Sardar Singh believes that the experienced players in the squad have a role in driving the team to excel. "The senior players along with the coaches and the chief advisor have already had sessions where we have talked about strategy and gameplans. The onus will be on the players to perform because a coach can only guide us. Bansal and Ajit Pal have a wealth of experience and we are not missing a foreign coach," Sardar says.
Delhi, however, will feel the absence of their main drag-flick expert as Dutchman Taeka Taekema has pulled out of the tournament due to a back injury. "We have got confirmation that Taekema won't be available for the entire duration of the tournament as he is injured. It is a blow for us but our side remains a well-balanced one," Ajit Pal says.