Happy to lead the country: Anup

Indian captain feels Pak will pose biggest challenge in SAG

Happy to lead the country: Anup

Having proven his worth as a leader for the U Mumba side in the Pro Kabaddi League, Anup Kumar, has been designated with the task of spreaheading the Indian men’s kabaddi team in the upcoming South Asian Games.

The star raider, who is in the city representing his PKL franchise, discussed a variety of topics ranging from his thoughts on the ongoing PKL campaign to his goals for the National squad. Excerpts.

You have had a mixed start to the PKL this season, with one win and a loss, and you are defending champions as well, are you feeling any pressure?

Not at all. There is absolutely no pressure. We started well against a good side and managed to win the match. The second match against Jaipur Pink Panthers was a tough one but one team has to win and one team has to lose. We made a couple of elementary errors and that cost us the match. But we are definitely playing with a free mind.

What are your thoughts on the U Mumba squad and the new additions that have been drafted in?

We haven’t really made any big changes. The squad is more or less the same from the previous edition with the major addition being Rakesh (Kumar). He is a very senior player and I can say that his technique is better than mine. He has the experience to know how to play in certain situations and that is something my side will look to utilise.

In your opinion, which teams are strong contenders in this edition of the PKL?

Every team is strong in their own way. But Jaipur (Pink Panthers) has a really good team and will definitely do well again. In addition to them, Puneri Paltan have brought in some strong players to bolster their squad. They will be in contention as well.
The South Asian Games are around the corner and you have been chosen to lead the side. Are you happy with the squad that has been picked considering a few seniors have been left out?

I have been playing for the country for a while now and it has always been an honour. This time around, I have been asked to lead the side so that gives me immense pleasure. I am very happy with the composition of the team. It is a very young and talented bunch that has been picked. Rahul (Chaudhari) and I are the only seniors in the team but we have competent players in each position. Deepak Niwas Hooda is a great addition to the squad and will play the role that Manjeet (Chillar) used to.

With the PKL happening just before the SAG, will there be a drop in the intesity of your game to avoid injuries?

We have to be careful because we will be representing the country. Any major injuries have to be avoided because that will end up being a set-back for the nation. But playing for U Mumba also is matter of pride so there needs to be a balance.

Which team will pose a serious threat in the SAG?

It has to be Pakistan. They ha­ve a strong team and will po­se the biggest challenge.

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