"Raiders can win you two-three matches but if your defence, which is the core of your team, is strong, then you can win every match," Jaipur Pink Panthers' skipper Deepak Hooda tells prokabaddi.com.
The leading all-rounder in vivo Pro Kabaddi history, Hooda is well versed with both disciplines in the sport and is someone who believes that a solid defence will always trump a flashy raiding unit.
"There may be a few matches which raiders can change single-handedly but mainly things come down to how well the defence plays,” Hooda adds.
Defending more team-oriented than raiding
What primarily sets the raiding and defending apart is that the former is a solo task and the latter a team effort. It's why defenders typically have extended careers over raiders, like the 44-year-old veteran Dharmaraj Cheralathan.
While raiders have to exert sudden spurts of energy and stretch every limb to score points, defenders combine strengths together through assists and synergies to execute a tackle.
"Coordination, in particular, is always required in defence," Hooda asserts. "If one defender goes for a tackle and the others don't support him then even a good tackle can go to waste.
"They have to keep communicating with each other non-verbally as well. Like if I'm in the Corner, I'll let the other players know when I'm going to go for a dive so that they can come in and support me," he explains.
Such is the nature of the game that while a raider gives away just one point when tackled, defenders however can give away multiple points.
"There is immense pressure to deal with during a match and we need to concentrate our minds and bodies into the game," says Hooda’s teammate Sandeep Dhull.
High 5 more difficult than a Super 10
"A raider can claim multiple points in a single raid during a Super 10," Dhull points out. "But a defender can only earn a maximum of two points and that too during a Super Tackle, which is the most difficult to execute in a match. That's the reason a High 5 is more difficult compared to a Super 10."
Last season, Pawan Sehrawat was the leading raider with 271 points while the top defender, Nitesh Kumar, managed only 100 laying credence to the disparity between the two disciplines.
"Even if a defender makes six successful tackles, it's a huge deal," Hooda stresses. "Even two-three tackle points at the right time can create enough of an impact to help your team win the match.
"The main thing for a defender is to not concede points. If you put in just two tackles in the entire match and don't give away any touch points, even then in most cases you are aiding your team’s cause."
The coach’s take
It's why Bengal Warriors' coach BC Ramesh considers one of his key roles as strengthening the defence and create a support system around it.
"A raider can get several opportunities to win points, but it's important to observe the defensive structures of the team during the match because that is a component that can keep breaking in the game," he adds. "It's important for the Covers and Corners to bond in any defensive layout unlike the raiders.
"I concentrate more on defenders because we can always win a match if the defence is on point." Ramesh believes. "Whereas raiders can only provide 20-30 per cent probability of winning the match."