With just two days to go for the Kabaddi World Cup to commence in Ahmedabad, Team India braces itself for the game it has dominated since the 1990’s – winning seven gold medals at the Asian Games as well as lifting the previous two World Cups- 2004, 2007.
Pro Kabaddi League side Telugu Titans’ captain and ‘poster boy’ of the competition, Rahul Chaudhari spoke to Indian Express, as Team India get ready to not only defend the title but also play hosts.
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Rahul, who would be eager to add a fairytale moment to his young kabaddi career, spoke about Anup Kumar and called the Indian captain as ‘captain cool’.
The young sensation said,”I’m lucky to play with Anup who is a great captain with tremendous talent and composure. He always backs the team, be it senior players, youngsters or staff members.”
With India boasting of an even squad comprising a mix of experience and youngsters, Rahul showed his belief in the team and expects the country to lift the trophy for the third time. But he believes the arrival of the PKL has increased the level of competition to a great extent, and seen the rise in talent for countries such as South Korea and Iran.
“I’m sure that India can lift the trophy and make the country proud. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how Iran and South Korea play. Scoring through raids, will be a crucial factor to win the matches.”
It will be difficult for the selection panel, to select the starting seven for India’s opener against South Korea, especially after having Rahul Chaudhari, Pardeep Narwal, Ajay Thakur and experienced player Jasvir Singh available as raiders.
“Selecting the first seven is Anup’s & Balwan Singh ji’s job. Both the captain and the coach will decide and inform the team accordingly. If my service will be required, I will be ready to go and give my best for the team. In the end the team must win, no-matter, who plays or not.,” the star raider added.
When asked whether home advantage can come to India’s aid in the competition, the 22-year-old said, “We will have the crowd behind us to instill confidence. While the opponents will have to deal with it. This will also allow us to play to the best of our abilities.”
2016 South Asian Games gold-medallists India has maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament. Rahul, who made his international debut for India in the South Asian Games at Incheon, shared his experience of how young children from his town have now started to turn up and develop interst in the sport.
“I developed interest in kabaddi after seeing my elder brother play. Only now, after receiving recognition throughout the nation because of the Kabaddi League, children now come to me and ask for tips. Thanks to PKL, for promoting the sport in the entire nation and the world.”
Lastly, the prolific player gave an insight into each individual’s diet to stay lean as they approach big tournaments such as the World Cup. “We are provided with a diet chart according to our physique and weight. With only a slight difference, we all follow the similar diet pattern. Breakfasts are generally heavy, followed by light lunch and dinner respectively with lots of milk, dry fruits and fruits. We are instructed to avoid the use of artificial supplements.” he concluded.