By Kaushik Kumar
Jaipur, Sep 26 (IANS) Dabang Delhi has shocked everyone on and off the mat as the team, which was considered the underdogs of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) for the first five seasons, successfully became the first side to enter the playoffs of this year’s edition riding on some exceptional shows. Delhi has lost just two of their matches from 17 games so far and coach Krishan Kumar Hooda reckons his long-term strategy beside the hard work of players and support staff is the sole reason behind their success.
While their young 19-year-old raider Naveen Kumar led from the front, he was equally supported by the senior defenders and Hooda is elated his team clicked together as a unit.
Speaking to IANS, Hooda listed the factors behind their progress saying: “The dedication and hard work of our players and support staff has contributed immensely to our success this season. We have functioned together as a unit not only on the mat but off it as well.”
Hooda said his decision to start an early two month training camp before the start of the league was beneficial. “Also, the added preparations this year have helped a great deal. I knew that in order to do well this season, we had to train more and harder than we have ever had before. So, I took a call to train for two additional months to prepare for the season and the franchise supported me wholeheartedly in this decision,” he expressed.
“Furthermore, Delhi did very well last year after disappointing runs in the prior seasons. During the home leg of the last season, we won five matches and this year we bettered that with a 100 per cent record,. This has been in stark contrast to other franchises, which have been hot and cold during their respective home legs this season. We are now confident in terms of carrying our stellar form into the rest of the tournament,” Hooda added.
Naveen Kumar had started making headlines right from the beginning of the league and is being touted as the major force behind Delhi’s success. However, Hooda said he wants a collective approach from his boys.
“Naveen has been outstanding for us since the last season. However, I don’t believe in the concept of individuals influencing the outcome of your games. I prefer my team to be able to perform as a unit. Some teams in this league are over-reliant on one player and they haven’t had much success. We do have some excellent players, but it’s important for us to perform as a unit,” the coach said.
Delhi had also qualified for the playoffs in 2018 but failed to keep the momentum going. The team lost in the knockouts last season and when asked what will be his strategy not to replicate the past, the coach said: “We will continue to do what we have been doing right throughout the tournament so far. In terms of a particular strategy, we don’t think that far ahead. There’s a lot of kabaddi left to be played. We can only plan for playoffs post the this (Jaipur) leg and will continue to take each game as it comes.”
Commenting on the fitness of his players, Hooda said: “The players in the team are fit – from defence to offence. I firmly believe that lack of fitness can result in more chances of injury. Therefore, conditioning coach Sandesh Rangnekar and I work on giving the appropriate training to the players.”
“Thankfully, everyone in the team is match-fit and we hope that’s the case going forward as well,” he concluded.
(Kaushik Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])