Gujarat Fortunegiants start their VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 campaign today against Dabang Delhi K.C. at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. Sukesh Hegde will lead the team in what will be its debut season. Before his team’s first match of the season, Hegde spoke to and shared his views on the new team, his responsibilities and fitness, the presence of one of the best corner defence combinations in the form of Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani and their preparations for the league. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

It’s a new team which is going to make its debut in Season 5. What are your expectations?

Yes, it’s a new team with a lot of youngsters in it and we will try to perform to our true potential and reach the final.

You have been handed the responsibility of captaining the side. Is there any kind of pressure on you?

Yes, there is pressure because I have to manage everything in the match. The performance of the team and keeping everyone on the same page is really important.

Last season, you couldn’t play much because of injury. How has your fitness been this season?

It will be a long season and I’m fit for this season.

Sachin is a young and new player, so what can we expect from him?

Sachin is a good raider. I think that he will be vital for the team and will support me in the raiding department.

You have the combination of two star Iranian defenders, Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani. Do you think they will give tough competition to Haryana duo Surender Nada-Mohit Chhillar?

Yes, they surely will because they have a lot of experience. They are a good combination in defence and give us a great advantage.

Your first match is against Dabang Delhi K.C., who have shown some good skills in their previous match. How is the team preparing for the challenge?

After seeing their performance, we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. According to that, we have made our plans.

What message would you like to give the opposition captain Meraj Sheykh?

My message is that we are ready to take ‘panga’ with him.