Pune: Indian kabaddi team and Asian Games gold medal have remained inseparable since the sport was introcued in 1990 Beijing Games as in the last seven editions India outmuscled any team that crossed their path.
India, which has won all 32 matches they have played till now during the period of 28 years, will look to continue its winning streak in upcoming Asian Games which commence in Jakarta-Palembang on August 18. The Kabaddi event will be played from August 19 to 24 at Theatre Garuda in Jakarta.
“When you are playing for the country there is always immense pressure. There is very less margin for error. You need to be more alert as one bad game can hurt the team badly,” said Ajay Thakur, who will captain the Indian team in Jakarta.
“I was the part of the team which won Gold in 2014 Games in Incheon. The experience of the previous outing will help me and my team.
“We have a very balanced team and all the players are eager to perform well,” explained Thakur, who along with the team is busy in preparatory camp in Sonepat.
Thakur played a key role in 2016 World Cup where home team defeated Iran in final and from their onwards he has never looked back.
“I have learnt a lot from my previous captains. I keep on motivating players. Making mistake while the match is on is not a problem but repeating it can cost your team badly so my job is to explain to player how they can overcome their weakness,” added Thakur.
Except for Ajay, all the others in the team will be making their Asian Games debut with most making it on the back of their Pro Kabaddi League Season-5 performance. Indian team comprises the likes of Monu Goyat, Deepak Hooda, Pardeep Narwal, Rahul Chaudhari and Rishank Devadiga.
All these players have proven themselves in the last five seasons of PKL. Monu is the most expensive player of PKL Season 6 auction at Rs 1.51 crore. Deepak, Rishank and Rahul too crossed Rs one crore mark during the auctions.
Pardeep Narwal has the ability to win matches almost single handedly. He has done this many a time for Patna Pirates, the PKL for the last three seasons.
For the Maharashtra player Devadiga, last two years of hard work has paid off. “Besides my performance in PKL Season 5, my feat in leading Maharashtra to National title worked in my favour,” said Devadiga.
“Asian Games will be challenging tournament for us. We have a young team and all are very talented. Just that we have to give our best performance then we can definitely win the gold medal,” added Devadgia.
There is another Maharashtra player, Girish Ernak, in the team for Jakarta and he was very much part of the side that won Dubai Masters recently.
“At the start of the tournament I was nervous but once I settled in, the fear vanished. We had good defenders good so whenever I got my chances I gave my best,” said Ernak, for whom Dubai Masters was his first national duty.
“Iran will be a tough team. Most of their players practice with Indian boys and they spend much of the time here, which gives them idea about our game,” added Ernak.
Team: Girish Maruti Ernak, Deepak Niwas Hooda, Mohit Chhillar, Sandeep Narwal, Pardeep Narwal, Rishank Devadiga, Monu Goyat, Ajay Thakur, Rohit Kumar, Raju Lal Choudhary, Mallesh Gangadhari, Rahul Chaudhari.
Reserves: Amit Nagar, Maninder Singh.
All the players have shown their talent in Pro Kabaddi League and I am sure that all of them will give their best performance donning Indian jersey.
—Ajay Thakur (Captain)
Ajay Thakur is a very humble man. In Dubai Masters, Ajay explained many things to us and he keeps motivating players.
—Rishank Devadiga (Raider)
Dubai Masters happened on right time. It gave us good exposure. Now I will be more confident while playing in the Asian Games.
—Girish Ernak (Defender)