Rakesh Sungroya came into Pro Kabaddi League 2021 as an unknown quantity. He made it to the cash-rich league after an impressive performance in the K7 tournament.
When the Adani Sportsline owned Gujarat Giants picked Rakesh HS via the New Young Player (NYP), he was expected to stay under the shadows of their famed defensive unit and play the role of a support raider to Mahendra Ganesh Rajput and Ajay Kumar.
Only that things turned out a tad bit different for the youngster. Not only has he missed one of the 20 matches the Giants have played this season, but he has also emerged as their best player in what has been a turbulent season for Manpreet Singh's side.
He has so far pocketed 115 raid points with 4 Super 10s and 4 Super Raids apiece.
"The team management and coach has given me a lot of confidence coming into my debut. All of this combined with the hours I have spent on the mat is paying off," quips Rakesh about his consistency to The Bridge.
Rakesh has not only scored points at will, but has also displayed a wide array of skills in a short PKL career so far. From running hand touches, to dubkis and jumps he has it all in his repertoire – leading to him earning the nickname 'Highly Skilled Rakesh.'
"I was picked and trained at SAI Gandhinagar. That is where I developed all the skills you see me display," says Rakesh.
This sudden rise to fame, however, does not seem to have any effect on him, who still prefers what his teammates call him, 'Kaali.'
"My teammates still call me Kaali and I prefer that," Rakesh reveals with a sheepish grin.
Having recently completed his 12th grade, the 20-year-old is currently pursuing his graduation in Sports Management and wants to complete his course along with his on the mat exploits.
"I have completed my 12th and am pursuing Sports Management now. I hope to balance both my studies and Kabaddi in the near future," he says.
Born in Haryana to a humble family of farmers, Rakesh picked up Kabaddi in 2015. He soon rose through the ranks and finds himself in the biggest Kabaddi league within six years of having started to play the sport.
What has changed from then to now? Nothing
"Rakesh is one of the most soft-spoken and down to earth person you will ever meet," said a Giants' team official before our interview.
And having interacted with him briefly, I can vouch for the fact that not only is he Highly Skilled but Rakesh HS is one of the most level-headed individuals you will ever come across.