Tamil Thalaivas skipper Ajay Thakur appeared on the first episode of Pro Kabaddi's Instagram show Beyond The Mat - Season II, where he named Iranian defender Fazel Atrachali as the most uncompromising overseas tackler in PKL.
Ajay Thakur participated in a Rapid Fire segment during the interview. Besides naming Fazel Atrachali as the most fearsome foreign defender, he also picked U Mumba as the most challenging opponents in PKL.
Fazel Atrachali has been one of the most successful defenders in PKL history. The left corner defender has scored 317 tackle points in 103 matches including 20 super tackles and 21 High 5s.
Ajay Thakur says players like Meraj Sheykh have done well in PKL because of their incredible fitness levels
The Iceman also highlighted the significance of fitness in kabaddi, pointing out that all-rounder Sandeep Narwal has been so successful in PKL majorly because of his fitness. Ajay Thakur added that former U Mumba star Shabeer Bappu was the most skillful player in PKL, but he could never realize his full potential because of his injury issues.
Giving the example of another foreign star in PKL, Ajay Thakur said:
"If you want to be a kabaddi player, your fitness has to come first and foremost. If you have speed and power, then you can raid any way you want and still succeed. Someone like Meraj Sheykh can touch or kick any defender and escape in no time because of his fitness levels."
Ajay Thakur concluded that skills were essential in PKL, but fitness should be the upcoming players' priority. Later, he narrated a hilarious incident with his former Bengaluru Bulls teammate Joginder Narwal.
"Whenever we used to lose, he used to switch off all the lights. Then he would get up after an hour and say, 'What happened to us today, Ajay?' He would do this every hour for the rest of the night. For the 4-5 days between matches, he used to sleep on the floor and not allow any light to enter the room. I said if this continues, then it will be a big problem. I used to look ahead and focus on winning the next match. After all, how can we win the next game if we are still thinking about the previous one? But that is how he was."
The former Indian kabaddi team captain had great respect for Joginder Narwal as he named him the best Indian defender of all time.