The 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championships will play host to the semifinals and summit clash of the competition today as the four teams, namely Indian Railways, Rajasthan, Services and Uttar Pradesh will be vying for the title.
With an array of Pro Kabaddi superstars set to take to the mat across all the teams, kabaddi fans will be treated to some exhilarating action at the Poornima University in Jaipur.
Defending champions, Indian Railways will be squaring off against Rajasthan in the first semifinal while the star-studded Services side will take on Uttar Pradesh for a spot in the final.
Sportskeeda caught up with Services captain Rohit Kumar in an exclusive chat as he spoke about the perks of leading a side decked with PKL stars, his role as a senior player in the Services side and a lot more.
Also Checkout: 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship 2020 Schedule
As a captain and as a player, I am very happy that we won the match against Karnataka by a big margin. They had some big name players in their side, and it was important for us to stick to our combinations. We put together a good performance, and the big win will only boost our confidence.
The Services side boasts of PKL stars such as Surjeet Singh, Nitin Tomar, young teenage prodigy Naveen Kumar among others, and when quizzed about how the team operates as a whole, Rohit narrowed it down to understanding each other's strengths and playing according to the situation.
We play together for the whole year, and we know who can do well in a particular situation. We have done well as a team this year, and hopefully we will keep up the momentum.
Having starred for his PKL sides Patna Pirates and most recently the Bengaluru Bulls, Rohit has been in the thick of things for quite a few years, and with youngsters such as Naveen Kumar and Mahender Singh playing under him, it's natural for him to share his experience with the upcoming players.
I have played kabaddi for a long time. I have played for 7-8 years, and have played with almost all of these guys. I have learnt a lot from the seniors, and when the juniors come to me for advice, I am happy to help. Most of them sometimes have an ultra-aggressive approach on the mat, so controlling that is a little hard (laughs).
To lead a side comprising of top-quality raiders such as Naveen Kumar, Nitin Tomar is no easy task, but Rohit claims that getting off to a good start in every game is something that he stresses on before every match.
If we start well in a game, the team combination will be set automatically. The morale in the team will be high, and if any of our raiders start to pick points contiuously early on, it will be hard for the opposition to stop him. As a captain, I have not had to deal with too much pressure, I feel that pressure will only come when we compete for a win in tight matches.
The biggest advantage for Services in this tournament is the presence of four main players in Nitesh Kumar, Surjeet Singh, Nitin Tomar and Rohit himself, all four of whom have captained PKL sides in the past seasons. The Services skipper claims that having Nitesh and Surjeet on the mat helps him execute his plans a lot more freely.
When I go in for the raid and come back, I won't know what I have done wrong and where I have missed an opportunity to strike. The defenders in my team watch my raid, and they tell me where I went wrong, so in that sense I can focus a lot more on targetting the flaws of the opposition defenders.
Having led the Bengaluru Bulls in the PKL, it is natural for an experienced player like Rohit to assist his PKL coach Randhir Singh in scouting players for the next season, and the star raider says that he does share his opinion, but the final call is taken by the management.
All the owners, coaches, managers of the various franchises are here and they are all watching the games closely to scout players for their teams. From the Bengaluru Bulls' perspective, I will share my opinion on the players who have impressed me, but in the end, the coach and management know who can add value to the side.
Also See | 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship 2020 Results