"Leading Maharashtra to the title is a dream come true," says star raider Rishank Devadiga after Nationals victory
He spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview!
Maharashtra clinched the Senior National Kabaddi Championships title for the first time in 11 years with a spectacular performance, defeating Karnataka and Services in the last two knockout rounds. Leading the team for the first time was 25-year-old Rishank Devadiga as he scored continuously with his raids and also handled his troops well on the mat.
"It is a dream come true," said Devadiga after the victory. "We had been waiting for this moment for the last 11 years and I'm delighted to have led the team."
It was the former U Mumba man's first time leading his state's side at the Nationals, which he says has been a lifelong dream for the raider. He said, "Ever since I started playing kabaddi, my target was to represent and lead the Maharashtra team. Now that I have become captain, it is a truly unbelievable feeling."
In the semifinal against Karnataka, he produced the moment of the tournament. Going on the buzzer raid in a do-or-die situation and that too with the scores level, Devadiga showed incredible maturity and poise. He took his time, sized up the situation and at the right moment, pounced with a running hand touch to take his team to the final.
Talking about that moment, he said, "I was confident in my abilities, that I would be able to score in the last raid. Throughout the match, I was feeling good and knew that I could score on every raid. I'm happy I was able to strike at the right time and win the match for my team."
Devadiga had a fine Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 outing last year, where he was the vice-captain of the UP Yoddha team and scored a total of 170 points in 21 matches, which included a 28-point haul in one game. Looking back at the year gone by, he is quite satisfied with the way it has panned out for him.
"2017 had a number of ups and downs for me in the start," said Devadiga, before adding, "But I picked up form with the start of the Pro Kabaddi League. I did well in those three months I feel and I'm happy with my performance overall."
2018 will be another important year for the raider, with the Asian Games lined up in the second half and another season of the Pro Kabaddi League on the cards. He is aware of the competition he has to face in the national team and the number of world-class raiders in India but is confident of his chances of donning the national team colours.
Devadiga said, "I am preparing for Pro Kabaddi and the Asian Games to the best of my abilities. I know there are a lot of top players fighting for a place in the Indian team."
"That being said, I can just work hard and continue my efforts. Hopefully, I will be able to make my breakthrough," he said signing off.