The Indian Railways men's team clinched the recently concluded 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championships in Jaipur. It was their second consecutive title as they went on to defeat the Services team in an exciting thriller.
The Railways' men remained undefeated through the entire tournament and maintained dominance over all the other teams. They started off their campaign with one-sided encounters in the league phase before moving to the knockout stages. In what was a clinical performance from all the players, the Indian Railways made sure they continued to play their highest level of Kabaddi when it mattered, in the pre-quarters, quarterfinal, and semifinal matches.
Indian Railways could very well be termed as a complete team at the 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championships. Let us have a look at the five factors that made them different from the other teams:
1. Strong team bonding
Indian Railways could be seen practicing and moving around the tournament arena always as a team. With the finest Kabaddi players in their team, they displayed a strong connection among themselves. The Railways are probably one of the very few teams in the tournament who were not seen fighting with each other on the mat in between the game either.
2. A strong defensive unit
The defense of the team comprised of Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Ravinder Pahal, Parvesh Bhainswal, and Sunil Kumar. Cheralathan, a veteran of the game, was once again in top form, as the 44-year young player scored 13 points from his 22 tackle attempts. After a dip in the form at the PKL in 2019, Ravinder Pahal looked upbeat and performed some amazing and eye-catching tackles in the tournament. He was the top defender for the team as he went on to score 20 points.
The dashing duo of Parvesh and Sunil continued their united front on the mat as they put in some important tackles, helping the team to score points when required.
Leading the team was one of the top raiders of the country, Pawan Sehrawat. The youngster was a part of the Indian national men's Kabaddi team that went on to win the gold medal at the South Asian Games 2019. He was also named as the vice-captain of the team.
Pawan led the team from the front and made quick decisions on the mat. In stressful situations, Pawan not only kept the team calm but also took responsibility on his shoulders when it came to pulling off important raid points. He ended up being the third-highest raid point scorer of the tournament with 59 points. That included two Super 10's, coming in the Round of 16 Match and the one in the semifinals.
Recovering from an injury, the star raider from Haryana Steelers lived up to his expectations in the matches he played. He was put on the mat in the knock out stage of the tournament by coach Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan. While he started off on a low key note in his first match of the tournament, Khandola went on to pick UP nine raid points and two tackle points in the Quarterfinal match against Haryana.
In the final match when Pawan was injured during a raid, Khandola became the lead raider for the team and picked up important points to ensure the team stayed ahead. He ended the tournament with 22 raid points from four matches.
5. A strong legacy
The Indian Railways team has always been one of the top-performing teams in the national circuit. Having won the Senior National Kabaddi Championship multiple times in the past, the team has a reputation to maintain. Not only that, but Railways also had players like Randhir Singh (Bengaluru Bulls coach), Rakesh Kumar (Haryana Steelers Coach) and Manjeet Chillar (Kabaddi World Cup 2016 Winner) in their previous teams. This puts extra responsibility on the current players to only aim for the title and keep the name of the team-high.
The current team did that perfectly and it looked like they started off the tournament with just the title victory in their mind and nothing else.