"We are hoping to build a team that can win us the trophy," says Dabang Delhi KC skipper Joginder Narwal prior to PKL 7 auctions

Can the Dabang Delhi franchise build yet another strong team?
Can the Dabang Delhi franchise build yet another strong team?

In the lead-up to the sixth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, the mega auctions witnessed a number of record-breaking deals that sent the likes of Monu Goyat and Rahul Chaudhari into the history books with contracts of ₹1.51 crore and ₹1.29 crore respectively.

However, in the midst of mind-boggling purchases, the Dabang Delhi KC franchise was content on adding some experience to their squad and snapped up the services of talismanic left corner defender Joginder Narwal and along with him the likes of Vishal Mane and Ravinder Pahal.

Having roped in the services of Chandran Ranjit for a sum of ₹61.25 lakh, their costliest purchase, it was only a matter of building a good squad, laced with the right mix of youth and experience.

With the team performing splendidly well throughout the season, including an unparalleled run at their home stadium, Dabang Delhi KC qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six seasons and with the season seven auction around the corner, Delhi skipper Joginder Narwal chalks out the strategy in hand.

"In the last season, I was given the responsibility to lead the team and we did well to get to the knockouts. However, we made a couple of costly errors and in this season, the aim is to ensure that those mistakes are erased and we go on to win the championship."

While Delhi opted to retain faith in only Meraj Sheykh prior to the season six auctions, the leadership shown by Joginder Narwal and the astuteness on offer from teenage sensation Naveen Kumar saw the trio retain their spots in the team.

"The franchise has retained faith in the three of us (Joginder, Meraj Sheykh and Naveen) and we will look to bring in the experience to the setup. Now, it is all about picking the right players from the auction and building the team."

On quizzed about Meraj Sheykh's influence on the team, Joginder left no stone unturned as he heaped praise on the Iranian all-rounder and said "Meraj Sheykh is a world-class player," and added "He is one player who stood out for us last season with some impressive shows and his ability to raid from both sides and complement the defensive unit is sure to be an added plus to the team this season."

Dabang Delhi's chief coach Krishan Kumar Hooda, the man in focus for his continuous aid in the rise of kabaddi in India was quick to stress on the fact that momentum is an important part of the sport.

"When a team performs well, we are always high on confidence. We have retained good players and will try and form a good team around these three players."

In the last season, Delhi's success was not over-reliant on one single player but was the result of a well-thought-out strategy from the auction that added depth to the squad and brought with it a glimmer of hope toward a title. Shedding light on the strategy for the upcoming auction, coach Hooda mentions that the strategy could be a similar one.

"The strategy will be similar to last season. Joginder and Meraj Sheykh will bring in experience to the team while Naveen's exuberance is also there. We have built a couple of strategies for the auction and we hope to build a stronger team from last season."

For those who wonder who takes the decisions ahead of the auction day, coach Hooda mentions that the call is taken with inputs from all those associated with the team, including skipper Joginder Narwal.

"The decision is a collective one to pick the players who will contribute to the development of the team. There are inputs taken in from senior team officers, franchise managers and also skipper Joginder Narwal which is then executed on the auction day."

In the sixth edition of the league, the addition of Joginder Narwal to the squad as a man with buckets of experience and captaincy material proved to be a masterstroke as the 'Takedown Tiger' took up the onus and with some fearless defending, led the team to the playoffs.

"Joginder Narwal was excellent as a captain and leader last season," says Hooda as he adds, "He brings in a lot of experience and stability into the team while Merah Sheykh's all-round performance and ability to strike in crucial positions was important for us and hence both of them have been retained".

While Joginder Narwal and Meraj Sheykh have been retained through the elite players' quota, young raider Naveen, who was quite a sensation with 172 raid points from 22 matches has also been given back a spot.

"Naveen has been playing extremely well in the local circuit for a long time. He may not be experienced but showed that he was a vital cog in our team last season," coach Hooda heaped praise on the youngster as he added, "His hunger to perform will undoubtedly see him go even further this season."

With the auction an important step to build the squad in the lead-up to the auctions, the coach seems to have his strategy clear, which is certain to bring about a lot of positives for Dabang Delhi KC from this auction.

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Edited by Kingshuk Kusari
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