Nilesh Shinde led the turnaround alongside Meraj Sheykh in Dabang Delhi K.C.’s win against Jaipur Pink Panthers on Saturday in what was the first match for either side in this fifth season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi. Shinde thwarted the advance of the Jaipur raiders through his unyielding tackle holds and played a big role in Delhi’s come-from-behind win at Hyderabad’s Gachibowli Indoor Stadium. His High 5 was a match-changer and helped Dabang Delhi K.C. claim the contest 30-26. Shinde spoke to at length and shed light on the team’s mindset. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

The match was really tough, so congratulations on the victory. What were the thoughts running inside your head when Jaipur got the lead in the beginning?

We were nervous because we were not able to get settled. Points were coming from the raids but the defence was unsettled. But after the half time, the defence was in a good position. Meraj also started to show his skills, but the substitution of Abolfazl (Maghsodlu) was the turning point for us.

What would you like to say about your performance against Jaipur Pink Panthers, where you got a High 5?

I think I didn’t perform up to my potential in the match. I couldn't perform the tackles I had to at the start of the match to contain the opposition. I will try to perform better in the next match.

Dabang Delhi K.C.’s next match is against Gujarat Fortunegiants, a new team which has star players in it. How is the team preparing for the match?

We have prepared for all the matches thinking that it’s a final match because we will be playing three matches with each team in this zone. So winning only a single game isn’t enough. All the three matches will be important. After the first match, all the teams will be analysing our performances and making their strategies accordingly.

Which players do you have in mind from the Gujarat team, who you think could trouble you?

It’s a new team and they also have some skilled players, but there is a difference in playing on the field and looking good on paper. The first match will be very important for them as well. We were demoralised when Jaipur took the lead but Meraj came back strongly and took the team across.

Abolfazl and Meraj play on the same team, so is that an advantage for the team?

Yes, definitely! They know each other really well. Meraj always guides Abolfazl and they both make a good combination for the team.

Dabang Delhi K.C. performed really well against Jaipur but how will the team sustain this performance in the league?

I think the team hasn’t performed to its potential yet because we made a lot of errors in the previous match but for the next match we will definitely study and revise what mistakes we did on the field and hopefully come back much stronger.