PKL 2019 | First-time finalist Krishan Kumar Hooda leaves no stone unturned for Bengal challenge

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After making it to the final of the seventh edition of the PKL, Dabang Delhi coach Krishan Kumar Hooda is all pumped up for the battle against Bengal Warriors. Hooda has said that the team is well-prepared for the summit clash which will be the first for the franchise since its inception in 2014.

Coach Krishan Kumar Hooda has a vast coaching experience under his belt with the national team, Haryana state team as well as with his departmental side – Haryana Steelers. Now, after joining Dabang Delhi as their chief coach in 2018, Hooda has tasted success in the PKL as well. He coached the side into the playoffs last year and now in season 7, they are in the final for the first time in PKL history.

Ahead of the grand finale against Bengal Warriors, Hooda spoke to SportsCafe regarding the preparations. He is eager to ensure that Delhi, who also topped the table after the league stage, do well in the summit clash. The chief coach doesn’t want to let the Dabang Delhi fans down. 

“There is no lack of preparations from our side. As you saw in the league stage, we topped the points table and are very well prepared. It’s going to be a good match and we will try to win the hearts of the audience and not let our fans down,” Hooda told SportsCafe.

Pretty much like the last season, the two finalists in season 7 – Bengal and Delhi have also never lifted the PKL trophy. Both the teams have qualified for the final for the first time and will be keen on performing really well to claim the silverware on Saturday in Ahmedabad. The senior coach was very happy with the competitive matches played in the seventh edition.

“There is no one single champion and it’s not easy to predict which team comes on top from where. This is very good for the league because when it’s just one team winning again and again and the others were not up to that level then the fans don’t feel good and now what happens is that people are surprised with Dabang Delhi reaching the final,” explained Hooda.

“This is the seventh season and this time the craze for the league has increased. The matches have been neck to neck and there have been a lot tied matches as well. The organisers have made us famous in the whole world as they are showing the league to the world so it is very good for the league.”

Naveen Kumar has been the major reason behind Delhi’s success in the seventh edition. He starred in the raiding department and so far has 283 raid points and is at the third place on the leading raider’s table. Hooda heaped praises on the youngster as he has been doing all throughout the season. The coach also said that the team has supported the 19-year-old and he has a very good understanding of the game.

“I have been saying it time and again that he is the next star of Indian Kabaddi and he gives good performance. He is really disciplined and listens to his coach and applies that as well. This boy is really intelligent, has immense knowledge, he understands the game well and has all the qualities. 

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“We first make strategies according to the match and then we give him free reign, we tell him it doesn’t matter if you are caught or don’t score points, the key is to play him with a free mind and I tell him at what angle you have to or don’t have to attack and where it is dangerous and where it is not and as I said before he has a good understanding so he knows and does what is asked of him,” Hooda commented. 

Apart from Naveen, Chandran Ranjit and Vijay are the two other raiders in the Delhi team who have stepped out and performed for the Delhi side as and when required. They also have Iranian all-rounder Meraj Sheykh but he played very few games this season. Hooda credited the support raiders for ensuring that Naveen doesn’t stay out of the mat for a longer period.

“We are giving more chances to Naveen as he is the most successful raider for us and whenever he is ousted, Ranjit and Vijay go and score points and so they don’t let him sit on the bench for long. We kept Pawan Sehrawat off the mat for around 20 minutes and you can check the time Naveen was out for. Both Ranjit and Vijay are not supporting raiders but are top class raiders and there is no doubt about that,” the Haryana-based coach stated.

Talking about his defenders, which includes the experienced trio of Joginder Narwal, Ravinder Pahal, and Vishal Mane, Hooda said, “I have a lot of trust and belief in my defence that they will do well without any problems.”

Hooda joined Delhi ahead of the 2018 edition and has been the change the franchise wanted. In the sixth season last year, he took the team from the national capital into the playoffs for the first time. This time, he has taken a step further and guided Delhi into their first-ever PKL final. Hooda is satisfied with the way his boys have performed in the last two years and also thanked the franchise for giving him the freedom in team selection and other matters related to the sport.

“I am very thankful to the franchise as they have given me a free hand in the last two years. They haven’t disturbed me at all. When it comes to my personal satisfaction, what can be more satisfying than this as when I joined the team, it was at 12th place in the previous season (fifth season) and helped them not just getting into the playoffs but into the semi-finals and the final this season. Our team has improved so much so what else can I ask for in life in terms of satisfaction here,” Hooda signed off.

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