Cheralathan: PKL biggest thing to happen for Kabaddi in India

In a chat with Sportstar, the Thanjavur-born star performer said the most demanding challenge for the players would be how well they maintain their peak fitness levels in the three-month long championship.

The dynamic defender will spearhead Puneri Paltan’s challenge in this season's PKL.   -  Special Arrangement

At 43, Dharmaraj Cheralathan is the elder statesman of the ProKabaddi League and in season five, this dynamic defender will now spearhead Puneri Paltan’s challenge.

“I know what it takes to be a champion side having led Patna Pirates to victory last season and the goal will be again to clinch the gold in the coming season,” said an extremely-fit and confident Cheralathan in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

The Thanjavur-born, Telugu speaking star performer added the most demanding challenge for all players would be how well they maintain their peak fitness levels in the three-month long championship.

“This is going to be real test of endurance and stamina — and not just skills — as it also involves a lot of travelling too,” added Dharmaraj.

“In terms of standard, it is going to be of high quality again. Players are conscious of the fact that the better they perform the better will be their future, both in terms of monetary benefits and also for Indian team selection,” says the South Central Railway employee.

“I got my place in the national team thanks to my PKL performances. That is why I feel this is the biggest thing to have happened to the sport in India,” he added.

On whether he would face any issues playing for a new outfit, Dharmaraj said that it will be same for many players as all teams have undergone personnel changes.

“And, having played with or against most of them, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are ready for the huge challenge ahead,” he said.

“The emphasis in training [now on in Pune] is fitness with a dedicated one full session daily. I feel that we have the best blend of offence and defence and with lots of experience too. The likes of Manjeet Chillar, Deepak Hooda, Sandeep Narwal, Rajesh Mondal are stars in their own way. We should reach the final and hopefully win the title too this time as the coach P.C. Ramesh is good,” added Dharmaraj.

Fondly addressed as ‘Anna’ by fellow players, Dharmaraj is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar and is all excited to meet the co-owner of Tamil Thalaivas this season. “If a great champion like him is into kabaddi, what more can you ask for. We are all thrilled at this,” he said.

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