Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018: 'Rishank Devadiga, Monu Goyat needed to make good impression on India debut,' says captain Ajay Thakur
A kabaddi match between India and Kenya may not be billed as a high-intensity encounter, but it is always a special occasion when a player makes his debut, especially for the national side.
After putting in impressive performances in the Pro Kabaddi League last season, star raiders Rishank Devadiga and Monu Goyat would have been expecting to get their international debuts against Pakistan.
However, such is the depth of the Indian national kabaddi side, that neither Rishank nor Monu, both of whom scored 165 and 191 points, respectively, got any time on the mat against India's arch-rivals.
India coach Srinivas Reddy, though, made sure that both the star raiders got their due opportunity in the Men in Blue's second match of the tournament against Kenya on Saturday.
No matter how much experience the two raiders had on the domestic circuit, an international match is a completely different proposition, and captain Ajay Thakur, realising the gravity of the situation for the two newbies, decided to inspire his raiders with a few words of encouragement for them.
"I had a word with them (Rishank and Monu) before the match," said Ajay. "I told them that this is their first international tournament, first match, and they should make all the effort to make a good first impression of themselves.
"At the end of the day, they’re both representing India for the first time. So they must show the quality, technique, and speed that is expected from Indian raiders," he further said.
The few words of encouragement from the captain seemed to have worked wonders, as both Rishank and Monu had a good outing against Kenya, scoring 15 and 10 raid points, respectively.
This performance would have put coach Srinivas Reddy under some pressure with regards to the team selection ahead of India's next match against Pakistan on Wednesday.
With top attacking talents like Ajay, Rahul Chaudhari, Pardeep Narwal, Rohit Kumar, Deepak Niwas Hooda, and Sandeep Narwal, it remains to be seen what combination Reddy goes with.