Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: "Indian players can never be as aggressive as the Iranians," says Ajay Thakur
The Tamil Thalaivas have not had a poor start to their life in the Pro Kabaddi League so far but the bright spark for the team has been the fact that their skipper, Ajay Thakur has been in prime form over the last few matches which might just enable them to embark on a winning run and finish the season strong.
Thakur, who was India's star player at the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, is not only the lead raider for the side but also leads the troops in the capacity of a captain.
Sportskeeda got in touch with the tall raider for an exclusive interview, here are some excerpts from the same:
What would you say about the form of the team, you'll have not really embarked on a winning run so far?
With our team as far as the players are concerned, most of them are very young. So, they have been performing adequately well but somewhere there is the dearth of the experienced campaigners. We've taken a lot of matches to the dying minutes but then we've succumbed to the opposition largely due to the numerous errors that we commit during those crunch moments.
Thus, we just need to buck up in that very aspect and embark on winning streak to make up for the losses.
So do you think, the franchise should have picked up at least a couple or more players with a considerable amount of playing experience in the league?
Well, I cannot say that, primarily due to the fact that players were divided amongst the 12 teams equally. We benefitted from the fact that our coach picked up the maximum amount of 25 players which includes a lot of recruits from the NYP category, thus we may have an advantage in the later stages of the league when it comes sustaining the squad in the light of fatigue and injury concerns.
We're almost half way through the season and the Gujarat Fortunegiants have been the only team which finished their home leg on a successful note, what has been the difference between them and all the others?
Particularly with Gujarat, the major reason behind their success has been their Iranian imports, the corner defenders in the likes of Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani. The duo has been lethal on the mat and with this season, I feel it will be the team with the best defence that will have an edge over others.
Do you think six consecutive matches in the home leg is taking a bit of a toll on the home teams?
There is the element of fatigue which does come into play primarily because most teams are very strong, so in every match, one has to work really hard to get that win. Thus, at times with back-to-back close fixtures with respect to the home team, some players can feel tired.
However, the form is also quite dependent on the recovery mechanism of each franchise which is where I personally think, Gujarat did a better job during the Ahmedabad leg.
What do you have to say about the issue that happened with Ravinder Pahal in the Mumbai leg post which the referees' suspended him for two matches?
In the capacity of a player, when we take to the mat, we have increased bout of aggression with reference to our game. Moreover, I had seen that particular struggle and I do feel that the time given to Jang Kun Lee was also a bit more, usually, it is around three to four seconds maximum, but he was given almost six seconds to make it to the midline.
Additionally, that was a vital moment in the match and maybe that is why Ravinder got more angry with the decision given against him in the heat of the moment. Maybe, it would have been better for the team overall, if he had been a bit calm, nonetheless such things happen rarely and one should tide over them eventually.
Iranian players are usually more aggressive on the mat not only with their performance but also with their celebrations at times, do you think it is too much at times?
Their aggression is actually good at times for it serves as a source of motivation to the team. But in the larger perspective, the Indian players can never ever be so aggressive on the mat for there is a lot of brotherhood and mutual respect that we share with each other.
For instance, if I get a touch on Anup Kumar, I cannot flex my biceps as a means of celebration, I would, in fact, be very foolish if I do so. The Iranians, on the other hand, are away from all of this and they will do their things irrespective of the player who is against them, even if it is their own fellow country man.
Which players have stood out for you in the Tamil Thalaivas squad?
We have a host of talented players but if I had to pick one, it would definitely be Prapanjan. The tall raider looks to be at his attacking best in every match and was incredible in the initial matches even when I was not performing.
Thus, he is one player who will continue to impress throughout the course of the league and might just finish with more raid points than me as well.