Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: "Pardeep Narwal is unstoppable," says Rishank Devadiga
The UP Yoddha will play two matches against the home team - the Patna Pirates in the upcoming Ranchi leg. The defending champions are one of the tougher teams to beat but UP possesses some firepower of their own to challenge their supremacy. In light of this, we caught up with Yoddha's frontline raider, Rishank Devadiga for an exclusive interview post the Sonepat leg.
Here are some excerpts from the same:
What is your opinion about the form of the UP Yoddha?
The form I would say has been good in terms of the fact that we have been playing good Kabaddi with a well-balanced side but the results have been another story. Because with most matches the case has been that we've ended up on the losing side primarily due to the errors we have committed in the last five minutes.
We have taken the lead early on in many fixtures, but towards the fag end of the match, we have succumbed to the pressure somehow and have been unable to sustain the momentum thus giving away the win in the process.
So, in that context, do you think there is some sort of dearth of experience when it comes to thriving in pressure situations?
I think the major factor has been the competitiveness within the league this season - it has gone up a few notches this season. The format has become such that one cannot predict a win even while leading by a mammoth amount of points.
For instance, when Pune clashed against the Titans they were ahead by 20 points at one stage and yet Rahul Chaudhari and co. managed to close it down towards the end to less than five points or so. So, the experience is not a major issue, performing on the given day in your best capacity especially in the last five minutes is the key aspect.
UP Yoddha has four draws so far in the league and many a time we've seen that the coach Uday Shetty instructs the players to not take the risk and go for a point to get the win and instead settle for a tie. Do you think this will affect the side's chances?
Not at all, it is not just our coach but any coach in that situation would give the same instructions to the player. In most draws that we've been involved in so far, the last raid is by us and there are just three or four rival defenders on the mat, which makes it difficult to get the touch point for if we are tackled we end up on the losing side.
Thus, the coach advises us to just go and cross the baulk line and fetch the three points at stake for the draw which is any day more worthwhile than just the sole point if we lose.
In the Ranchi leg, UP Yoddha will clash against the Patna Pirates twice and Pardeep Narwal has been stellar so far, what is your opinion about him and how do you plan to restrict his attack?
Pardeep is in brilliant form at the moment especially with the two outings where he amassed more than 20 points. It is not easy to score points particularly touch points in quick succession and in my opinion, he is sort of unstoppable. However, in our last match against Patna, we did manage to keep him out of the equation for a considerable amount of time and will look to do the same in the coming matches.
Moreover, I think if our team manages to give an all-round performance we can thwart the challenge easily for their defence is the weak link and it will work to our advantage.
Any young player who has left a mark on you with their performance in this season?
Well, this season has been the most successful given that we have a huge crop of young talent that has come to the fore. Sachin has been exceptional on the mat for the Gujarat team as the lead raider, Vishal Bhardwaj is becoming a major force to reckon with in the defence of the Telugu Titans.
With regards to my team, Nitesh is a power house of talent with a proper combination of brute strength and defensive skills to his credit, which was pretty much evident with his performance in the last match wherein he picked up a High-5 against the Tamil Thalaivas.
UP Yoddha are currently in second position in the Zone B Points table behind the Bengal Warriors with 37 points from 14 matches. The Pirates, on the other end, having played three matches less are in third spot with 36 points to their credit.