Kabaddi World Cup 2016: India is much better than Iran, says Rahul Chaudhari
Rahul Chaudhari is the ideal raider a team should have in its ranks due to his sheer strength, agility and the swiftness with which he goes about his job. His numbers boast about his threatening presence on the kabaddi mat with over 500 points from 57 matches in his Pro Kabaddi League career.
He is a part of the Indian squad for the Kabaddi World Cup set to defend the title they last won in 2007, and in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the Telugu Titans skipper exuded shades of confidence prior to the start of the tournament.
In a side that features 5 captains from the Pro Kabaddi League including the likes of Manjeet Chhillar, Jasvir Singh, Anup Kumar, Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Rahul himself, there was a concern of an internal clash of ideas and strategy that could mar the Indian teams' cause.
But Rahul was quick to refute the same and expressed confidence in Anup when he said, "Anup is the right man to lead India having shouldered the responsibility before and the tonnes of experience he carries with him. Moreover, what makes him the right candidate for the job is the fact that not only the coach but all players whether younger than him or elder respect him and his game. Thus, the question of a possible clash does not even arise.”
An aggressive style of play was Rahul's mainstay for the initial season's of Pro Kabaddi but in the last edition which concluded in July, he emerged as the most successful raider with 146 points to his name but there was a transformation, the audience and experts saw a mellowed and calm headed Rahul leading his side to the semi-finals much of it single-handedly.
"Being aggressive is important, but I realised over time that if you overdo it, you had an undue advantage to the opponent. Thus, in Season 4, I tried and exhibited more self-control be it a tense situation or in the face of an injury, which helped my performance overall as well, and I intend to continue in that manner," quipped the 23-year-old.
Iran is one side which is tipped to give India tough competition and more-so even a realistic challenge to the title, and this was echoed by their captain Meraj Sheykh. But this does not bring about the slightest inch of panic on Rahul.
In fact, he sort of burned down the words of his former teammate from Telugu Titans, saying, "Meraj can claim that, but it takes a lot of courage and sinew to defeat a team like ours. We are a squad of 14 great players, and the Iranian team with maybe 4-5 good players does not really stand a chance against us. But at the end of the day, kabaddi is also a sport and one can never predict the final outcome for anything is possible." (Well, we at least anticipate a war of words as the tournament approaches closer!)
India’s Coach Balwan Singh will surely be in a tizzy when finalising his starting 7 for the opening match against South Korea for he is spoilt with plenty of options. Rahul with his impressive statistics is a player who cannot be virtually ignored from the gaffer's scheme of things, when asked about the same the star raider was more than humble in his answer.
"Whosoever is chosen to be a part of the playing seven, the focus should be on giving in their 110 percent and winning the match.
So even if I'm on the mat or on the substitute match, the role does not differ much, I will be helping my team win the game by either scoring those valuable points or motivating the ones playing.”
Kabaddi has seen its popularity rise to newer, exceedingly higher levels in the last couple of years so much so that the World Cup is taking place after a hiatus of 9 years in our very own country.
Rahul is of the opinion that, "It is the introduction of the Pro Kabaddi League which should be credited for this huge-scale development. The game now reaches millions of households across India and the globe, which is a big thing for a sport that had almost vanished from the Indian scenario. Moreover, with the World Cup being organised in our very own country at Ahmedabad, it is assured that we will benefit from the home support for unlike League matches this is about supporting the national team which is of greater significance."
The expert pair of Balwan Singh and E. Bhaskaran have been overlooking the players of the Indian team as coaching capacity and Rahul says, "Their impact is very valuable for us, while Balwan Singh ensures that there is no sort of mental pressure on us and we are able to give our cent percent at match, Bhaskaran sir helps us notice, analyse, correct and rectify our mistakes, thus making sure that our game is at peak."
Rahul's story has come a full circle, his parents used to many a times scold and beat him up when he opted to play kabaddi over studying. However, with a turn of tides, he says, "My parents are very proud of the fact that I represent India and am earning so many laurels for being a professional kabaddi player. In fact, when young kids refer to me as their idol or icon, the feeling is overwhelming."
When asked about what will be his key move at the tournament, the escape artist concluded the conversation with a short quip, "Well, it's a secret, I shouldn't disclose it now since that will give the rival teams an advantage, but I'm looking forward to the challenge." It was evident from this interaction, that the 23-year old star raider from Bijnor is sure to set the stage or rather mat on fire at the World Cup.