"I too retaliate equally" - Pawan Sehrawat on comparisons with Virat Kohli's captaincy style

A proud Pawan Sehrawat poses with the Indian flag after winning the Asian Kabaddi Championship 2023. (Picture Credits: Pawan Sehrawat
A proud Pawan Sehrawat poses with the Indian flag after winning the Asian Kabaddi Championship 2023. (Picture Credits: Pawan Sehrawat's Instagram)

Indian kabaddi team skipper Pawan Sehrawat shone once again through his match-winning performances in the playoffs of the Asian Kabaddi Championship. He led his side to a great triumph in the tournament.

Pawan was seen in action after a long hiatus, where he underwent surgery after he suffered an injury in the first game of Pro Kabaddi 2022. After he completed his recovery and rehab at JSW, the Hi-Flyer did not break a sweat as he was back to his very best.

Answering questions posed by Sportskeeda, the 26-year-old spoke about a variety of topics - including his comparisons with Virat Kohli, the team's strategy, and about the upcoming Asian Games.

Pawan was flattered to be compared to Virat Kohli, with fans having noticed similarities in the pair's style of captaincy. He explained how he was not one to tolerate any wrongdoings done to him or any of his team's players.

"Thank you so much. It is not about my aggression. If I notice something wrong happening on field, I will raise my voice - whether the wrong is done to me or any of my teammates. If the opposition charges on any of my players, like they did on Arjun Deshwal or on Aslam, I will stand tall and won't spare the opposition. I too retaliate equally."

Pawan reiterated how he will stand strong and hold his ground even if it is against referees. This was the case when a referee had awarded a touchpoint to Iranian raider Alireza when there was none. The Indian raider is not one to be affected by a card being awarded to him or any other punishment.

"So that is my mentality, to fight the wrong, even if it is the referees. If I get a card for that or anything else, that will be a different topic altogether. My mindset is aggressive. I play an aggressive brand of kabaddi so I have an aggressive mindset."

It was often observed that Team India did not go all out and get massive wins under their belt. They often held back and became a touch conservative in the second half when victory was all but assured. This was when teams like Chinese Taipei were registering wins with a margin of over a hundred points.

ALSO READ | Why aren't India winning by bigger margins at Asian Kabaddi Championship 2023

Talking about the same, Pawan explained how the side were more focused on preventing injury and saving their attacking mindset for the important fixtures.

"For us, it was mainly to prevent injury. Whether it be Naveen or me or Arjun, or any of the 11 members. The main motive was to stay injury-free throughout the tournament and bring back the trophy. A few couple of players like Sachin Tanwar and Mohit Goyat - we played them against Chinese Taipei and against Korea in the second half. It was a part of the plan to keep the attacking mindset for later."

Continuing on the same topic, Pawan recounted how he and Arjun Deshwal had decided to rest on the final day of the tournament in the match against Hong Kong. This was in order to stay fresh and prevent any possible injury for their final against Iran.

"In the final, me and Arjun played, but in the morning game against Hong Kong, we decided to rest. It was part of the plan. We were thinking about the later games and looking to be aggressive for those."

"I want our defense to improve" - Pawan Sehrawat calls for a stronger defensive showing at Asian Games

Pawan Sehrawat was appointed as the vice-captain of the Indian team. But, due to visa issues affecting captain Sunil Kumar, it was the former who took over the reins for the entirety of the tournament.

Captaining India for the first time, Pawan revealed how he did not take any pressure on a personal level irrespective of the opposition and level. He further divulged how he has a plan of his own separate from those formulated by the coaches.

"On a personal level, I do not take any pressure. There was no pressure against Iran or Korea or any particular opposition. Whether I talk about national captaincy or PKL captaincy, it has been easy for me. That is because I get onto the mat with a plan - whether it be a district or an international tournament."
"Coaches have a plan and I have a plan myself too. I study and try to exploit the weakness of the opposition. Other than that - it was just a tournament for me, there was not much pressure."

Looking ahead to the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games, Pawan wants an improvement in the defensive aspect. He felt that the Indian team did not live up to the expectations in the defensive side of things.

"I want our defense to improve. The defense we practiced - in situations where four, five, and three defenders are on the mat - we did not even perform 10 percent of what we had practiced."

Despite laying their hands on the coveted trophy, Pawan was disappointed with India's performance. He feels that some slightly difficult situations could have been avoided and India could have cruised to comfortable wins in their matches - particularly the one against Iran where the final scorecard had only a 5-point difference.

"Even though we have won, I am not happy with the performance. We could have made the matches more one-sided. Final we won by 10 points but the semi-final (league stage game against Iran) we won hardly by 3-4 points, which could have been easier for us. Now when we will go for the camp, we will work on our defense."

It will be interesting to see whether Pawan Sehrawat will continue to lead the side for the Asian Games, which are to start in the latter half of September. However, prior to that, the Pro Kabaddi Auction will take place on 8-9 September, where Pawan's name could go under the hammer and fetch possibly another record bid.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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