Dabang Delhi have made a smashing start to Pro Kabaddi 2019 and they enter the home leg eager to repeat their heroics of last year at Thyagraj Stadium. Delhi have won five of seven matches, with one tie, so far this season to stand second in the points table. The objective for last year's semi-finalist will be to complete their home leg, which gets underway on 24 August, with a 100 percent win rate and keep their place at the top half of the table. Currently, Jaipur Pink Panthers occupy the top spot having played two matches more.
The reason for this exceptional start, coach Krishan Kumar Hooda says is a result of early and extensive preparation. "This time the franchise gave us two months extra to prepare for the season. I had meetings with the franchise officials and made the request and it was approved. The credit for this great start should go to the franchise and they've given us all the facilities needed. For us, the only thing to focus on is things on the mat. The training remains the same as last year but it is the added preparation that helps," he said on Wednesday.
This season, teams have struggled at home with Telugu Titans, Gujarat Fortunegiants losing all their home matches, U Mumba winning two and Patna Pirates one. Delhi beat Jaipur Pink Panthers, Puneri Paltan, Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls and Tamil Thalaivas last season at home with the only defeat coming to U Mumba. "Dabang Delhi did well last year after years of non-performance. The way our home leg went, no one could match that feat: we won five matches and could have well won a sixth. There is a good relationship within the team to enjoy off the mat and get serious when on it," said captain Joginder Narwal. "Traditionally teams haven't done well at home and that does bother me when coming into the home leg of our matches. But we hope that with the support of the fans and the prayers, we will go better than the rest of the teams," he added.
"We're confident of our ability and in doing well at home. I should reiterate that this is confidence and not overconfidence. We did well last year and the plan is to go one better this time. It is important to leave an impact in the league by staying different. If we do that then we leave a mark for our owners, our team, our coach and our players," he said with confidence.
With a flurry of matches to come for Delhi at home, as is the norm for a home side in the league, fitness will be pivotal and Hooda remained positive of going through the matches without a blow to the squad. "The players in the team are fit - from defense to offense. I firmly believe that lack of fitness means more chances of injury. Team trainer Sandesh Kumar and I work on giving the right training to the players. By the grace of God, everyone is fit and hopefully remain that way."
When asked if the team changes their plans from an away leg to home leg, Hooda said, "Strategy does not vary depending on the leg but match-to-match or even player-to-player. We face Bengaluru Bulls next so our strategy and practice is according to facing them. Maybe you would notice this when we play but for me, the most important is to have a fully fit squad."
With more defenders among the raiding points, Narwal explained why that is happening. "The league has been going on for quite some time so everyone understands how each raider attacks and plays. The defenders keep a track of how the offensive players are doing, notice things during other matches and keep a focus throughout the year. Away from the Pro Kabaddi, we train and play matches the rest of the year. If a raider is making things difficult for me, I keep an eye out for how he plays, analysing tiny little details of their play including against different opposition," he said.
Dabang Delhi's home leg gets going with the match against Bengaluru Bulls on 24 August.