Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: Bengal Warriors' Maninder Singh eager to make up for his missed time on the kabaddi mat
When the Jaipur Pink Panthers won the inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, there was one player who made quite a few heads turn his way with his consistent exploits on the mat irrespective of the rivals. The man in question is none other than the crafty raider, Maninder Singh!
However, post his rampant raids and the title winning stint with the Panthers, Maninder suddenly disappeared from the kabaddi scene for the subsequent seasons and will now be seen making a comeback in the bigger and better fifth edition of the tournament.
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Now a Bengal Warriors recruit, purchased for a hefty price tag Rs 45.50 lakhs, Maninder displayed the same sort of vigour and energy akin to his stature from the first season, and it was evident from his confident words, that he was looking to replicate his stellar show from the past, looking to make up for his missed time on the mat.
Sportskeeda got in touch with the man from Jalandhar for an exclusive chat, ahead of the Warriors first match against the Telugu Titans, here are some excerpts from the same:
How has the training and preparation of the Bengal Warriors been prior to the season?
It has been pretty great. We had an intense training session back home in Kolkata for a good period of two months wherein we've worked on everything from fitness, strength training to match practice. Hence, we're pretty high on confidence and looking to make the most of our time during matches!
Where did you disappear for three seasons after laying your hands on the trophy in the first edition?
Post the first season, I suffered a major back injury. Thus, I was initially resting it out and then working on my fitness since as per rules I had to prove cent percent fitness in order to participate in the league. So that took time, and hence I'm back only in the fifth season!
What are the changes in you and the league since the first season to the present day?
Well, for the league, it is now a longer season which requires paramount levels of fitness and sustainability. On a personal note, I will exude the same power and strength as I did in the first season, it's just that with age and more experience of playing in tournaments, my approach to the game is more mature, I am accountable to the side and will hence avoid any sort of silly errors. Most importantly, back in the first season, I did not have the six pack like I have now!
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Could you throw light on your friendship with Ran Singh?
Ran Singh and I go back a long way, our friendship is not new, in fact, we became close while playing back home in Punjab many years ago. Since then, it has carried on through the years, through teams in PKL, first with Jaipur and now at Bengal.
You may not know this, but he had this tattoo done on his arm in Canada, and I got inspired and got the same one done in Punjab, so we're also inked, sort of a testament to our bond.
You used to play the Circle form of kabaddi prior to the PKL, what is the major difference between the two?
None of them is easier than the other, but when concerned with PKL it is obviously more challenging given the time and space restrictions. Moreover, the major difference is that there is no cap on the weight requirements of players in the circle format unlike the 85 kg limit in the Pro Kabaddi League.
One thing that the Bengal Warriors have this season which gives them an edge over the others?
Essentially speaking, in terms of the players in our ranks, like Surjeet, Ran Singh, Jang Kun Lee, there is no individual focus, all of us are very closely knit as a team, and we look to showcase the same cohesiveness on the mat. Thus, particularly when it comes to the defense, there will not be lapses on our end, for the coordination will come to the fore.
What is the major drawback or advantage of the longer season this time around?
There is no drawback as such, it's just that the players have to be cautious with respect to fitness in order to sustain themselves throughout the entire duration of ninety days. The advantage is that the viewers will get to see more kabaddi action, and for the teams, there are longer gaps between matches which implies a greater recovery period thus enabling them to put up a greater show.
Lastly, one message that you would like to give your fans?
Well, I'm sort of making a comeback so one thing that I would like to say is, 'Taiyaar ho jao, jis josh main dekha tha mujhe Season 1 main, usse dugne josh main dekhoge Season 5 main!'