Telugu Titans have had a dismal opening at VIVO Pro Kabaddi this season, losing five of their six homes games in Hyderabad. Their defence has constantly been called into question, and coach Naveen Kumar seems to be running out of options. The only silver lining of their campaign so far has been young defender Vishal Bhardwaj. He captured everyone’s imagination after scoring a High 5 in the opening game against Tamil Thalaivas and since then he has gone from strength to strength. The tackler has made opposition raiders think twice about going for a bonus point with his swift ankle holds. The youngster might well be the find of the season for the Titans. Ahead of the team’s last home game on Thursday, Bhardwaj spoke to about his thoughts on playing with the big guys. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

This is your first season at VIVO Pro Kabaddi. How does it feel to play on the big stage?

It is a very good feeling to finally be a part of VIVO Pro Kabaddi.

In the first match you got a High 5. Did you think you would perform so well right from the outset?

Yes, I was confident of performing well because our coach Naveen Kumar made us work hard on our game during the practice sessions and that has reflected on the mat. He had high expectations of us and we did not want to let him down.

Do you receive any guidance from the senior players in your team such as Rakesh Kumar and Rohit Rana?

Luckily for me, the seniors in the team are very helpful. They are willing to guide me as and when needed. During the game, they help me control aggression and when I make a mistake they give me feedback on how I can improve.

How does it feel to play alongside Rahul Chaudhari, who is already a well-established name in the world of kabaddi?

Rahul Chaudhari is one of the most well-known personalities in the sport of kabaddi. It is an honour to be sharing the stage with him. He helps me with things both on and off the field.

Tell us how you feel about your team’s performance this season.

The team’s performance has been good overall but at times we made a few minor errors in judgement which ended up costing us dearly. Otherwise, I feel everyone has been putting in their best.

What do you think separates you from the other defenders in the league?

The ankle-hold and back-hold are my strengths and I try to use these to my advantage.