The all-rounder gave an account of the season’s performances and the pressure of playing without Naveen Kumar.

Dabang Delhi have been performing well in the ongoing season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). The outfit are one of the strong contenders to clinch the title, considering their consistency in the league stage. Vijay Malik is one of the players who has contributed majorly to Delhi’s success this season, helping them stay in the top-six positions on a regular basis. 

Naveen Kumar is the focal point in the team’s raiding department. However, in his absence, it was Vijay Malik who stood out with his performances in several fixtures. He was crucial for the team while Naveen was unavailable due to injury.

The all-rounder gave his opinion on several topics during an exclusive conversation with Khel Now. He gave credit for the tremendous display in PKL Season 8 to the whole team. Vijay Malik stated, “The whole squad and the management gets the credit for the consistent performance by the team. The camp took great care of us. The facilities are nice, which is the reason the whole team is delivering well and getting good results.”

Pressure in Naveen Kumar’s absence

Naveen Kumar could not participate in a few fixtures after suffering from injury setbacks. This is the moment when Vijay Malik stepped up fill his shoes. He was crucial in keeping the winning streak going and taking care of the raiding responsibilities. He spoke about preparing himself as the main raider after the absence of Kumar.

He explained, “When Naveen Kumar plays, he is the first raider of the team and I am the second raider. The responsibilities of becoming the first raider fall on me in his absence. Although, I don’t take pressure in these situations. Everyone has the capability, it is just about having the right mentality. One has to just build the right mindset and I got good support from the coaches and players, especially Manjeet Chillar.”

Dabang Delhi have many players with buckets of experience. Players like Chillar, Jeeva Kumar, Sandeep Narwal and Joginder Narwal are part of the setup. According to Vijay Malik, the team benefits a lot from the experience of these figures. In this regard, he said, “A lot of opportunities come forward to learn from experienced players and they were central to several wins. The senior players impart a lot of guidance during the matches and I am deeply influenced by Manjeet Chillar.”

Departure of Ajay Thakur in middle of season

Former captain of the Indian national team Ajay Thakur was also part of the Dabang Delhi team in PKL 8. However, he chose to leave the outfit in mid-season. It was revealed later that the player was unhappy with the lack of game-time. Having said that, Vijay Malik was of the opinion that Ajay Thakur left the PKL due to injury.

He said, “Ajay Thakur chose to leave the team mid-season owing to injuries. Kabaddi is a type of sport where injuries are very common. You cannot play cautiously because that prevents a player from delivering his best performance.”

Krishna Kumar Hooda is the head coach of Dabang Delhi, who helped the team reach the finals under his leadership. Giving him a lot of praise, Vijay Malik remarked, “Krishna Kumar Hooda is very experienced and very good at guiding the players. He keeps us motivated, which also boosts our confidence. He points out our mistakes after each game and then prepares us for the next fixture.”

Danger for Dabang Delhi in playoffs

Apart from Dabang Delhi, three-time champions Patna Pirates are also performing well in the eighth edition of the league. According to Vijay Malik, the Pirates can pose a lot of danger to his team in the playoffs. He said, “Every team is in the race for the playoffs. All of them are trying to fight for the available places. If the two strongest contenders are concerned, then Dabang Delhi alongside Patna Pirates would be the ideal choices. They can be a big source of danger for Delhi.”

Due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation, PKL 8 is being organized at a single venue, without fans. The spectators are not allowed to watch the matches in physical attendance. Vijay Malik insists that the players miss the fans. “We are missing the fans inside the stadiums this season. When your family members, fans and kin watch your fixtures, then it translates into a brilliant feeling. Their wishes and hopes help you to perform better,” he concluded.

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