PKL 2021: The team is upbeat even after slow start: Haryana Steelers captain Vikas Kandola
The Haryana Steelers captain Vikas Kandola talks about the team's slow start in PKL 2021, his performance and much more in a conversation with The Bridge.
The Haryana Steelers have had a shaky start to their Pro Kabaddi League 2021 campaign, registering just two wins in their five matches. While the Steelers look fairly balanced on the paper with a perfect mixture of youth and experience, they have not been able to produce consistent results in the early part of this PKL season.
The Bridge caught up with the Haryana Steelers captain, Vikas Kandola, for an interaction where he opens up about the slow start to their campaign, the emergence of Meetu Manderder, Jaideep Kuldeep, the return of Surender Nada and more. Excerpts:
On leading the team for the first time
I have led the team last season as well when our captain Dharamaj Cheralathan was not playing. The experience of leading the team full time has been good so far, but we have not been able to produce the desired results. My main focus as a captain has been to bring the team together as one and it is just a matter of time before we start winning consistently.
On the reasons behind the slow start to their campaign
I do not think we have a specific weakness. We have done well in raiding as well as a defensive unit. It is just that both of them have not clicked together. We are struggling a bit with the team combination at the moment with the kind of players we have and that is something we are working on. I cannot reveal what kind of changes we would make to our playing seven, that is on our coach Rakesh Kumar and the entire team trusts him to do the job.
On his struggles this season
No, I do not think I am facing any sort of captaincy pressure. If you look at it we are playing with three raiders and our main ploy has been to use the one who looks in a better touch on a particular day more in a match. It's not that I am putting all the raids, I have a very good back up and they have done extremely well.
On the emergence of Meetu
Meetu has done extremely well in the opportunities he has got. He is our X-factor. The biggest advantage with him is that he is an NYP and not many people know what he brings to the table since this is his debut season. He has got very good speed and is such a player who will score regardless of how many defenders are there on the mat. It has been difficult for him to adjust to the level of play, but I am confident he would perform even better.
On how he handles the youngsters with results not going their way
It is a big task to keep youngsters like Meetu and Jaideep motivated. The two of them have been our best players so far this season and with the team not winning consistently, it is hard. I just tell them to keep doing what they have been doing and that everything else will follow. We just tell them to play with a free mind and not take unnecessary pressure.
On Surender Nada's return
His return is one of the biggest positives for us so far. He has performed quite well in these first few games and it is a big boost for the entire team to have someone of his stature showing how it's done. It is a big season for him on a personal note too – returning from an injury is never easy but then he is a fighter.
On the team environment
The team is quite upbeat to be very honest. The management has done a very good job of keeping all of us focused. Even though we have not had a great start to our campaign they have kept us motivated. They are constantly on our ears telling us we can do much better and that has been of very big help.
On coach Rakesh Kumar
I grew up wanting to be like Rakesh Kumar, but never did I imagine I would be able to play under his guidance. He is a legend of the game and I have learnt a lot from him. I have picked up his brain on quite a few technical aspects of the game like the bonus, turn and running hand touch. Overall it has been quite great to have him around for the past two seasons.