The UP Yodha captain talked about his squad and expectations from the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League Season 8.

The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is back and is up and running after two years. All the teams have geared up for PKL 8 and have hit the ground running. Among the 12 teams, UP Yoddha have assembled a very high-profile squad during the off-season. 

They have got in big names in the players’ auction and are expected to be one of the favourites for the title this season. However, things haven’t gone their way so far this season. But, their captain Nitesh Kumar is hopeful for a good season this time around. In an exclusive interview with Khel Now, Nitesh Kumar opened up about his squad, his teammates and expectations from the season ahead.

Thoughts on team

Nitesh Kumar shared his overall thoughts on his team and said, “I just want to say that we have a better team than before. Last time, our defence was good, but the raiders didn’t do well.”

“But, this time we have good raiders in Pardeep (Narwal), Shrikant (Jadhav), Surender Gill. So, our offence has become strong and I feel we’ll do good this season,” he added.

Reason behind rigid defence

UP Yoddha possess one of the strongest backlines in the league and have dropped in rock-solid performances. The captain shed light on the reason behind the solidity at the back.

“The reason is that me and Sumit have played together since childhood and our combination is good since the beginning. We also have Ashu and we maintain a good combination with him as well. Our bonding is very good and that’s why our defence is so solid,” asserted Nitesh Kumar.

Return of PKL

The PKL has returned to action after a halt of more than two years. It is being held behind closed doors in Bengaluru for the first time. Nitesh Kumar shared how he kept himself fit in the past couple of years.

“We’re born for Kabaddi. My father and grandfather also played Kabaddi. It was tough for us, the fans and Kabaddi during the pandemic. But, we maintained our fitness and continued our practice cause we believed that the league will happen,” he added.

Combination with Pardeep Narwal

Narwal was picked up in the auction for a record fee (Courtesy: Pro Kabaddi)

Pardeep Narwal is the highest raid point-getter in the history of the league. After being released by the Patna Pirates, UP Yoddha picked him for a record price at the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 auction.

Nitesh Kumar revealed what his combination with Pardeep Narwal feels like. He said, “We have a very good combination as we practiced for over two months together. He tells us about our mistakes and we tell him about his. We’ve a good bonding with him because he is very cool,” Kumar added.

Strong contenders for PKL 8

The UP Yoddha captain was asked about his thoughts about the strongest teams in the league this season.

“All the 12 teams are good and have come here with good preparations. The team that will perform on the mat will get the results. All the teams including UP Yoddha will play better and give it all to become the champions,” concluded Nitesh Kumar.

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