The raider believes his side can do the double despite losing some key names from the defence.

Last season champions Dabang Delhi has been on a rampage even in the ongoing season 9 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). They have won five games and are in the second position on the points table. Naveen Kumar is currently their lead raider. But unlike last year he does not have the support of Vijay Malik who played an instrumental role in Delhi’s title-clinching win last season. Vijay is nursing an injury and is expected to return soon to the mat. Khel Now spoke to Vijay in an exclusive interview.

On his performance last season

Last season Naveen Kumar got injured in the mid-season and the raiding responsibility fell on Vijay’s shoulders, he did well in Naveen’s absence, when asked if he felt any pressure in shouldering the extra responsibility he said, “No I didn’t feel any pressure, to be honest. Yes losing Naveen was a big blow but that gave me an opportunity to play as the lead raider so I enjoyed that, if I had felt pressure I wouldn’t have been able to perform for my team”.

On the team’s new composition for the new season

Last season Delhi had the likes of Joginder Narwal, Manjeet Chhillar, and Sandeep Narwal but this season in PKL 9, the team is comparatively less experienced than last season, when asked about the same, Vijay responded, “Yes, the players may be new but apart from a couple of players everyone has experience playing in the tournament so it’s not like there’s no experience. Also, we have the most experienced coach in the tournament so we get to know a lot from his experience wise”.

On Krishan Hooda’s role as coach

When asked about what kind of role Hooda plays as the coach in the team, Vijay said, “Our coach is like a father figure in the team. He is genuine and he displays all the emotions and doesn’t hold back. When someone does not do well, he may get angry and say something in angst but eventually, he himself goes to a player and apologizes, in that way he has really a big heart”.

On Naveen Kumar

Naveen Kumar has been breaking records since he started playing in PKL, when asked about the same, Vijay said, “I don’t think Naveen is focusing too much on how many raid points he gets. This season he is the captain of Dabang Delhi as well, so he and the team are focusing on finding ways to win games, even if you observe as a captain he is also giving more responsibility to other raiders in the match”.

On playing as a support raider

When asked about what is a more pressure situation, playing as a support raider or the main raider, Vijay said, “I don’t really take any pressure while playing be it as a support raider or the main raider”.

On who inspired him to play Kabaddi, and the role PKL has played

Vijay Malik told Khel Now that his idols in Kabaddi were seniors in his village who helped him reach this level, “My idols are seniors obviously who introduced me to the game, that’s why I’m here. PKL has played a massive role in the development of the sport and obviously the players. Now people recognise the sport and also the players” Vijay added.

If Dabang Delhi can win back-to-back titles

Delhi is on a good track and it won’t be a surprise if they become one of the first teams to qualify for semis, “We are playing well at the moment, and we are practising well as a group so we are definitely in line to win the title again”, Malik concluded.

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