Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: "No pressure from captaincy or from being the most expensive player," says Nitin Tomar
Like a bolt from the blue, it was Nitin Tomar who took the auctions by storm ahead of this Pro Kabaddi League when he went for the highest price ever as the UP Yoddha dished out 93 lakhs to acquire the services of the talented raider.
The Yoddha have had mixed results thus far, but seem to be coming good at the right time. After their win against the Tamil Thalaivas last Wednesday, they now sit third in Zone B with 54 points, inching that little bit closer to that final playoffs spot.
Nitin has led his side with 168 points, 160 raid points in that, from his 19 matches till this point. He's also the captain for this new team, his third in three seasons. Still very young, Nitin has shown fantastic development every season, exhibiting a great deal of poise and technical ability in his raiding.
Sportskeeda caught up with Nitin before the start of the Jaipur leg to get his thoughts on the season thus far and his performances.
Has there been any added pressure on you this season compared to previous seasons with captaincy and the price tag?
The way our team has played has been extremely good. My performances have also been good, I'm happy with that. There is no pressure on me of any sort, neither from captaincy nor from being the most expensive player. Coach sir has told me to take the team with me and keep them together. So far I've been playing as per the instructions our coach has been giving and the team is also playing well.
I was quite happy to be the most expensive player in this year's auction. I am also happy that my performances have been going well. The load that comes with captaincy is also reducing little by little as the team has started to come good. We have fixed a lot of the mistakes in the last 4-5 games.
How crucial was it for you to beat the Tamil Thalaivas in your last match?
It was very important to win this match as both teams are fighting to make the playoffs. We also have Telugu Titans who are playing well. We went through the video of both our earlier matches to see what mistakes we should avoid.
It is important to win all our remaining matches because Telugu Titans have come close to us. Looks like we'll have to win all the remaining matches in our zone to make the playoffs, so that's what we're looking to do.
Is the presence of players like Jeeva Kumar and Rishank Devadiga, players who have won the title already, a huge boost for the team?
We have young players in our team and senior players too. Jeeva is a senior player, his experience and knowledge has been very useful for us.
This season we have seen you execute the running Bonus. It is something that you have managed to pull off repeatedly with much success. What made you work on this?
Yes, we have to keep bringing in some changes to our game. Nowadays there's video analysis and every team is studying your game thoroughly. So you need to come up with some change or the other and I felt that this would be a good move to practice.
In the match against the Tamil Thalaivas, we saw you execute a superb tackle where you caught one of their raiders from behind and threw him behind, like a wrestler. Tell us a bit about that.
This move is quite famous in wrestling where you throw the player over you backwards. So sometimes it just comes automatically since I have some background in wrestling as well.
According to you, what are some of the things that your team has done well this season?
The most important thing is that our team is playing quite well. Just one of our matches has been one-sided. We are a brand new team in this season 5 of PKL and have done well. Barring one game, the score difference has not been too much in our losses. We have been able to make good comebacks even when down big against an opponent.
This is the first time that PKL has been played for over three months. It used to be just a month or a month-and-a-half earlier. How have you coped with this change?
We had a 2-month camp - one month for the physical training and one month for sharing strategies. We're done with two and just the last month is left. So far we have not had any problems due to this.
You played under Manjeet Chhillar's captaincy last season for the Puneri Paltan. What are some of the things you got to learn from him?
I got to learn quite a lot - how to take my team towards a win, when to send which player to raid.
How has PKL changed from season 3, when you first played, to now?
It was quite different when I debuted in season 3. Scores used to be quite high, teams would score freely. Now the game has become very technical. Teams have started to play on the third raid and because of which the scoring has become controlled. The average is 30-35. Only in some matches the score goes above 40. The matches are very close as a result, there are so many ties. So, it's a changed a lot actually since the time I started.
How big was the success you enjoyed at the World Cup last year?
The camp which I underwent was very useful. Coaches Balwan Singh and Baskaran gave me plenty of good training. The performance which I gave in the final against Iran was a result of that. That experience has been very helpful for me.