Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018, India vs Kenya: 5 players the men in blue need to watch out for
As Kabaddi Masters Dubai enters its second day, India will be looking for another victory. A sublime performance by the Indian players on the first day earned them a comprehensive victory against Pakistan at the premier kabaddi tournament. These matches will do India a lot of good in the run-up to the 2018 Asian Games which are scheduled to start on 18th August in Jakarta.
The champion team, which features superstar players, will now be going up against Kenya, who are presently ranked 6th in the World. Ajay Thakur has taken up his role of captain well and was just phenomenal on the mat against Pakistan, picking up 10 points alone in India's 36-20 victory. Filling in the shoes of veteran skipper Anup Kumar would have been an uphill task but Ajay has shown his true potential by stepping up to the challenge and performing well under immense pressure.
The biggest shocker of the first day for India was their star raider Pardeep Narwal, who could not manage to pick up any raid points. He was substituted for the talented Haryana-born raider Rohit Kumar. The flamboyant raider showed some blistering speed and scored 7 points for the team, becoming one of the standout performers. Another surprise of the first day was that the most expensive player of the recently concluded Pro Kabaddi League auction - Monu Goyat - did not get a start because of the depth in the squad.
Rahul Chaudhari also got going in the game towards the middle but was kept quiet by Pakistan for the majority of the game. Meanwhile, Surender Nada, and Surjeet Singh were rock-solid in defense and showcased brilliant ankle holds with blistering speed.
Rahul Chaudhari and Pardeep Narwal will be looking to up their game against Kenya. There is absolutely no doubt of their ability, and maybe it was just an off-day for them. Meanwhile, Monu Goyat too will be hoping to get the opportunity to showcase his talent and justify that it is not by luck that he was picked up for Rs. 151 lakhs in PKL actions.
India will be looking to test their bench strength against a marginally weaker Kenya (when compared to Pakistan). However, the best team in the World will not be taking this challenge likely and look to be in a commanding position in Group A.
India is undoubtedly one of the most feared Kabaddi teams in the tournament. No wonder the World No. 1's have gone on to win the gold medal at every Asian Games since 1990. The addition of the Pro Kabaddi League has given players extra exposure, taking the level of the sport up by a notch.
The Kenyan team is relatively new to the world of Kabaddi, however, this fact can act in their favour. The naturally quick team does have the potential and the firepower to pull off huge upsets. They will be looking to do the same against India, which makes it all the more important to see which players India must keep a keen eye on.
#1 Isaac Njoroge Ikigu
Isaac is only 18-years-old and may just prove to be the surprise package in the Kenyan team. Young blood is running through his veins and he has proven to be a potent player time and again. Despite David Mosambayi and Patrick Nzau Muvai being the stars of the team, he too possesses the knack of picking up raid points at will.
Going up against the strongest defenders in the world will be an exciting challenge for him and he will be looking to make the most of it. The competent raider is equally potent in guarding the left corner.