Vikash Kandola has stated that his team will try to win as many matches in the league stages and stay in one of the top two spots on the table after the league stage. The raider has also said that he and his team are learning a lot from the experience of Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Rakesh Kumar.
Haryana Steelers are having a great run in the ongoing season of the PKL and are currently at the third place on the points table with a total of 54 points from 16 matches. The team will play its home matches from 28 September in Panchkula and they have only one game in Jaipur before that against three-time champions Patna Pirates.
With their home leg coming up next, raider Vikash Kandola is hopeful that the team will do well and win more matches to get to the second position on the points table at the end of the league stage next month. In an exclusive interview with SportsCafe, the young raider also talked about his expectations from the home matches.
“We will try to win matches (the match) before home leg so that we are not under any pressure there. The aim is going to win as many matches so that we finish in the Top 2 and get to play the semi-finals directly that will be good for the team,” Kandola told SportsCafe.
Haryana had some initial hiccups in the seventh season but ever since Kandola has made a comeback in the raiding department, the team has grown from strength to strength. Kandola has collected 125 points from 13 games and is at the sixth spot on the list of the top raiders of the season.
When asked about his impact on the team’s performance, a humble Kandola replied, “It feels good. In the first few matches, neither I nor Prashanth (Rai) were there so there was something missing in the raiding department as they weren’t able to score much and the defence also wasn’t playing well. Since we have returned the team is playing well and also has been winning continuously.”
“I have worked on the mistakes that we were making in the last season and all I thought was that I have to be better in the next season. So, I practised a lot at home as well as in the camp and that’s why I have been doing well.”
A lot has changed for the team as well from the last season and the performance has improved a lot. The 21-year-old raider, who was with the team in the sixth season as well, credits the fitness of his teammates as one of the major reasons for their success this season. Haryana had finished at the bottom of the Zone A points table in 2018 with only 42 points from 22 games.
“In the last season, senior players like Surinder Nada got injured and even Monu (Goyat) was not fully fit and that's why they weren’t able to do well. Though this season, everyone in the team is fit. Prashanth and Naveen are doing well and even the defence is playing well so we have improved in both raiding and defence,” the raider explained.
One major change the Haryana Steelers team management made this season is roping in former India star Rakesh Kumar and his presence has helped the team a lot is what Kandola feels. Rakesh, who himself has played the league, replaced Rambir Singh Khokar as the chief coach just before the auctions in April this year. The team also have the experience of veteran defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan and his presence on the mat has been extremely beneficial for the Steelers.
“We are learning a lot from him (Rakesh) as he had captained India and was a brilliant raider too. We have learnt a lot of new things from him. The coach tells me to focus on speed as I am short in height because if your speed is good you will get advantage from it.
“Whenever we play on the ground we have an experienced player like captain Cheralathan who doesn’t let us take pressure and when we are going on raids he keeps talking to us and explains to us what to do against what player and so that for us that helps a lot when we go for a raid,” the Haryana lad concluded.