Even when the most passionate faithful believe there is only a remote possibility of pushing for five invaluable points, this Puneri Paltan pair, with all odds stacked against it, is capable of turning the tide in its favour with a couple of crunching ‘Super tackles’. It more often performs than perishes.
The corner combination of Sandeep Narwal and captain Girish Maruti Ernak is usually at its menacing best, bringing about the downfall of opposing raiders. Despite not playing in the heart of its half of the mat, the duo was central to the side reaching the ‘Super-playoffs’ in Pro Kabaddi 2017. The Pune-based franchise sits on top of the Zone A leaderboard in this edition, with 32 points from 10 games.
Speaking about his partnership with the skipper, Sandeep, through an email conversation with DT Next, said, “Girish is an absolutely fantastic defender. When we play together, we form a lethal combination. Also, to hold the fort, we have some dynamic youngsters in the team like Ravi Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Rinku Narwal. All-rounders Shubham Shinde and Amit Kumar also play a part in our defensive set-up.”
Pre-season is the time when players try to impress coaches, to cement their spots in the starting line-up. Defenders in the squad dash and pounce, with one objective in mind, to deliver their moves with unmatched precision during the regular season. Asked about how pre-season works for a kabaddi player, the 25-year-old stated, “Kabaddi is a contact sport that requires immense stamina and fitness. We follow a strict routine. Along with our usual training, we specially focus on building stamina by doing cross function exercises. Since it is a fast-paced game, we also take care of our speed and agility. While plank exercises develop core strength, rotational slams helps in building side cores.”
“We also do yoga and meditation, which helps us concentrate. They make sure we stay focused and calm during crunch situations on the mat,” added the Indian international.
With monstrous raiders like Siddharth Sirish Desai propping up, the onus is on defenders to remain in good shape. According to him, a lot of emphasis is laid on the food they consume as the machine inside them has to function without rest. “Diet is extremely important to maintain fitness. Our diet is a perfect mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fibrous food and good fats. We consume less spicy, less salty items and more of boiled food. Breakfast includes boiled eggs, juices, cornflakes, fruits etc. We strictly constrain from taking ghee and oil. We also have milk and almonds. We have mutually agreed to not consume bread and sweets. We keep a watchful eye on each other when it comes to getting tempted towards unhealthy food. The key is to eat healthy food in right proportions.”