The 26-year-old raider spoke about his journey as a captain of the Maharashtra kabaddi team.

Star raider Rishank Devadiga has played in all seven seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League so far, but he believes that leading Maharashtra to the Senior National Kabaddi Championship title was the biggest turning point of his career.

He played brilliantly in the 65th edition of the tournament and picked up crucial points in almost every game to end his state’s 11-year long title drought.

“I was very young when I first played at the nationals but the more I played, the stronger the desire to win the title as a captain grew inside me. I remember the previous time Maharashtra won the title was when Jitesh Joshi was the captain,” said Rishank Devadiga to Pro Kabaddi.

He recalled, “Back then whenever we went to play anywhere his name used to be announced on the loudspeaker since his team had won after 27 years. Hearing my name there was something I aspired to. The first year itself in 2010 we won the state championship and I was selected for the nationals to represent Maharashtra. I never played juniors or sub-juniors before participating in the seniors so it was a big deal for me.”

Rishank Devadiga took some time to gain experience and after few years, he was ready to lead his side in one of the most difficult Kabaddi tournaments of India. He remarked, “It was a pleasant surprise for me since I didn’t know beforehand that I would be the captain.”

He led his side from the front by playing a starring role in the semi-final to register a thrilling last-minute win against Karnataka. Then the star raider started the final with a super raid that set the momentum against Services in that big match. He rescued his side in the first half when they were on the brink of an all-out and also ended the match with another super raid.

Maharashtra took the match 34-29 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. He said, “It was a pleasant surprise for me since I didn’t know beforehand that I would be the captain. People saw that Rishank has matured and is capable of handling a team. That was a big positive for me. I could even say that it was a turning point.”

He added, “To lead the team to victory after that was something I still feel lucky about. We won after almost 12 years and I don’t think many people gave us a chance back then. Proving everyone wrong and getting there was a big achievement for me.”

Rishank Devadiga played for the UP Yoddha in the last season, but he wasn’t included in his state’s team for the 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship earlier this year.