Gentle Pawan turns a Toofan

Personality

QUICK BULL Pawan Kumar Sehrawat’s lightning fast raids paved the way for Bengaluru Bulls’ title triumph in the PKL.

“Har koi kabaddi nahi khel sakta (not everyone can play kabaddi),” says Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, underlining the tough nature of the sport. Those who witnessed Pawan’s terrific display in the just concluded sixth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League won’t blink an eye before agreeing to this statement: not many can play kabaddi like Pawan.

The Bengaluru Bulls raider isn’t just strongly built. He is technically brilliant. As he begins his raid, Pawan’s mind works like a lightning. He smartly pulls a surprise from his bag of tricks to catch the opposition off guard. Whether it is the toe touch, the sudden acceleration, the quick jump or the dubki (when a raider goes underneath a chain of defenders), Pawan always has a way out.   

The 22-year-old was the most feared raider of Season VI and earned the nickname ‘Toofan’ (Tornado) Kumar Sehrawat. During his raids, it was a rarity to see him just bag one point. Several times, Pawan put the Bulls back in the hunt by clinching a clutch of points with each of his raids.

In franchise-based leagues, the hot buys at the auction mostly fail to live up to the hype around them. Pawan was picked by the Bulls for a whopping Rs 52.8 lakh. Thankfully for the Bengaluru unit, he repaid the faith.

In the all-important title clash against Gujarat Fortunegiants, Pawan scripted a tremendous turnaround. At the half-way mark, the Bulls were trailing 9-16. But Pawan remained unperturbed by the pressure scenario and scored 22 points to singlehandedly help Bulls clinch the trophy for the first time. 

“I just tried to remain calm. Only the first half was done and there was still a lot of time in the game. I just told myself to keep fighting,” says Pawan, who finished with 282 points from 24 games. He pulled off 12 Super Raids and 209 successful raids.

Pawan has been a fighter right from his childhood. Hailing from Bawana, a town near New Delhi, he faced problems generally associated with small sports. “My town didn’t have an academy. Since my school days, I cycled 10kms to a kabaddi academy to train. My father was my biggest supporter. He owns a shop but always made sure I had the basic resources to train. Every morning at 5:00 am, he would wake me up for training. It was a tough journey early on but I loved the sport so I kept backing myself,” Pawan says.  

Pawan has reaped rewards for his immense patience. Last season, he was picked by Gujarat but he mostly warmed the bench. Two seasons ago, Pawan was in the Bulls’ squad but failed to receive enough opportunities. “Despite not getting chances, I kept focusing on the future. Irrespective of the team or the tournament, all I thought about was performing well whenever I played,” he offers.   

His approach worked as a consistent show in the domestic competitions put him in the spotlight ahead of the auction. “Today, Pawan might be a new name for all the kabaddi fans. But for those inside the fraternity, Pawan is a familiar guy. We knew he was promising. This time around, we observed him closely in the Senior Nationals and Federation Cup and were very impressed,” says Bulls’ coach B C Ramesh.

From an unknown entity, Pawan is now Indian kabaddi’s hottest property. The youngster speaks on the preparations done for the season and thanks Bengaluru head coach Randhir Singh: “Earlier I would only execute the jumps. I sat with Randhir sir and watched videos of previous seasons. He helped me work on my turn and my reaction speed. I tried to be an all-round attacker,” explains Pawan.  

“Pawan’s speed is what sets him apart from the other players. His is also very fit. We can bank on him to play with the same hunger throughout the game because of the stamina he has,” coach Ramesh points out.  

Pawan now aims to play for the country. “All my coaches are very happy with what I have achieved. For any player, it is a dream to represent India. I want to make the cut to the Indian team and be a regular member of the side,” he says.

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