Patna Pirates are gunning for a hat-trick of VIVO Pro Kabaddi titles and have demonstrated terrific form which suggests they will not let go of their crown without a fight. Dubki King Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat have been instrumental so far this season but another person who has shone under the bright lights of kabaddi’s grandest stage is all-rounder Vinod Kumar.

Playing his first season, 32-year-old Vinod has made his presence felt in both attack and defence for the two-time champions and recently spoke to about his journey in the sport. The fact that he has many familiar faces around him has eased him into the Patna squad. “I have learned kabaddi from where Pardeep and Jaideep learned kabaddi. Then I got selected in the Services team. So, from there it all started for me. I was a part of the Services team and played well in the national tournaments as well, so because of that I got a chance in Pro Kabaddi,” Vinod said.

Elaborating on the difference between Pro Kabaddi and local tournaments, Vinod added: “There is a lot of difference [between Pro Kabaddi and local tournaments]. In local tournaments, no one comes to watch the games but Pro Kabaddi is a very big league. It’s a dream for players like us to be a part of this league.”

When asked if playing with senior, household names brings any added pressure with it, Vinod said: “See there are some positives as well as negatives. We all have fun together but we can’t cross the line with seniors. On the mat, senior players guide the junior players mostly but sometimes the junior players also tell them [senior players] if something went wrong. So, we all stay like a family.”