Pro Kabaddi League continues to attract a large audience with its ninth season. Being one of the most successful sports franchise leagues in India, PKL has introduced many top players as it grooms young talents to shine on the big stage. This year, it was Gujarat Giants’ Rakesh Songroia who set the season on fire with his incredible skills as a catcher. In less time, it has been touted as the next big thing in Indian Kabaddi. He has already scored 114 points for his team in 11 games this season.
Rakesh made his debut in the Pro Kabaddi League last season with the Adani Sportsline-owned Gujarat Giants at the age of 20, and has achieved great success in the league. He amassed 140 raid runs for Gujarat in his first season and this year he’s looking to make it even bigger. Rakesh’s strike rate has improved as a striker this season which is a great sign for him and the team.
In an exclusive interaction with News18, Rakesh talked about his Kabaddi journey and said he was all focused on achieving his dream of becoming a professional Kabaddi player.
“I started playing Kabaddi in 2015 and then joined Gandhinagar SAI where I started my training. For me there was no other choice, I just wanted to become a professional Kabaddi player,” Rakesh told News18 Sports.
The young Kabaddi sensation also revealed that he had some knee discomfort last season which caused him to slip a bit but this season has been exciting for him.
“Last year was my first season so I was under a little bit of pressure. This time I went into the season with full fitness, which wasn’t the case the last time I had a knee injury. I came into the season with good training and the coach supported me too. I can’t take too much pressure and I just go with it.” the current “.
Gujarat currently sits ninth on the points table but the gap between them and fourth-placed Dabanj Delhi is just five points. They have a fair chance to bridge the gap as Rakesh is also confident in guiding his team to the playoffs.
“We are a bit under pressure looking at the points table but we will cover the gap soon. Jaipur Pink Panthers have been my toughest opponents this season so far.”
In the current season, Rakesh has been more involved in the defensive department than in PKL 8.
The youngster from Haryana said it was the coach’s call to give him a bigger role in the team and they had a special pre-season training to work on his defensive attributes.
“It was the coach’s decision to give me more responsibility and to be more involved in the defensive department. We did a special training session in the camp to work on my defensive skills because he told me that the corner doesn’t come under much pressure if the second man is involved. I’m a team player and I’ll do whatever the team requires if the situation needs it. To do the tackle, I would. However, I want to become known as a striker rather than an all-rounder.”
He talked about the team’s mentality in the final seconds of the game, and suggested that a forward take on the task of getting his team to cross the line if it is behind.
“Only a striker can win the game in the last two minutes. The defense can only make a hunt and then the opponent will play in a do-or-die raid but the attacker can change the course of the game. If we are in the lead we will be a bit defensive in the last seconds and when we are behind we run a style attack “.
He further talked about his ambitions for this season, his kabaddi idol and the crucial support he gets from the top players.
“If we can win the title, he will give me everything as an individual. My goal is also to finish among the top 3 raiders of the season. Maninder Singh is my idol. I get full support from my seniors, especially Renko,” Rakesh said.
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