The 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship concluded on Friday and like its previous edition, it was the Indian Railways’ men’s and women’s teams that went unbeaten and hoisted the trophy for the second year running.
Despite the multitude of star-studded rosters in the tournament, the Indian Railways’ teams were touted among the firm favourites to take the trophies home and when they took to the mat, they lived up to their billing on every occasion.
But what made them tick on the mat? Here, we look at the keys to the Indian Railways’ success at the 67th Senior National Kabaddi Championship:
A strong core
Championship pedigree cannot be taught. It comes with success and both the Indian Railways’ men’s and women’s team were brimming with players that have tasted it at the Senior Nationals.
Players like Pawan Sehrawat, captain Dharmaraj Cheralathan, Ravinder Pahal, Vikash Kandola were all part of the team that won the title in 2019 and were key figures in this edition as well. The women’s team, too, featured Sonali Shingate, Pooja, Ritu Negi, Payel Chowdhury, Pinki Roy and Pavithra, all of whom were part of the side that won the 66th Senior National Kabaddi Championship and were central to their title charge.
A team effort
While their rosters were laced with the nation’s finest players, neither sides relied heavily on a single individual to carry the load in offence or defence.
For the men’s side, raider Rohit Gulia performed splendidly during the group stage, while in defence it was Parvesh Bhainswal who showcased why he’s touted amongst the country’s best Cover defenders. Pawan Sehrawat and Vikash Kandola were on song in their quarter-final and the semi-final, and when the raiding unit had a tough time in the final, it was Ravinder Pahal who delivered a scintillating performance against Services’ Naveen Kumar, Rohit Kumar and Nitin Tomar.
In their tough opener against Maharashtra, the Indian Railways’ women’s team defence managed just three tackle points, however, their raiding trio Sonali Shingate, Pooja and Pavel Chowdhury ensured that their side got over the line with 19 raid points amongst themselves.
Against Tamil Nadu, defender Ritu Kumari found her groove, scoring six tackle points to help her side secure their berth in the quarter-finals. Against Punjab in the final pool stage game and in the semi-final against Jharkhand, it was defender Ritu Negi’s incredible performances (six and eight tackle points, respectively) that guided her side to comfortable wins.
In the final, raider Sonali Shingate dominated proceedings, scoring 13 raid points in just 15 raid attempts, which included eight bonus points, that helped Indian Railways retain their crown.
The Indian Railways’ men’s and women’s side were prolific on both sides of the mat, when they needed to be and that perhaps is the reason why they have swooped the nation’s premier inter-state competition for the second year running.