Deepak Niwas Hooda forms a formidable combination with defender Amit Hooda for Jaipur Pink Panthers. U Mumba would vouch for this after its defeat against Pink Panthers at the Gachibowli Stadium here on Monday.
Not surprisingly, Deepak, who loves to lead from the front, left a huge impact in that game. He scored 11 points from 15 raids and Amit notched up a high-five.
What exactly PKL means to him? “It is not all about money alone. It is the kind of respect we get by playing in it, that is more important,” emphasises Deepak in a chat with Sportstar . “And, just imagine the kind of recognition we are getting across India. The growing fan following is a fair indicator of the popularity of not just the sport but also of the players, too, because of PKL,” says the 25-year-old World Cup gold medallist.
Deepak happens to be the biggest player for Jaipur. His team is unlike the others in the league which are packed with at least couple of star raiders. “Well, I don’t feel any pressure but definitely [there is a] lot more responsibility. And, this I am enjoying a lot really,” he says.
“We are glad with the kind of winning start we have had this season and obviously look to sustain the momentum for the rest of the long league,” says Deepak. “We are a young side with an average age of 22 years but immensely talented,” he adds.
“But, I must say the standard of the game has come down a bit, throwing up a huge challenge to the young talent to rise to the expectations by raising the bar,” he says.
“Frankly, we are fortunate to have an owner like Abhishek [Bachchan] sir. I don’t think any other franchisee owner is so deeply involved in the game. And, the best part is the very polite and humble way he keeps encouraging despite setbacks. We love his attitude and concern towards the players,” says the star raider.
What should be your dream moment in PKL? “Still waiting for that evening when our team clinches the trophy,” he says in a flash.
Any sentiments before entering the field of action? “Well, I always read Hanuman Chaalisa . Other than that, nothing special,” reveals Deepak with a smile as he joins his team-mates in preparation for the next round of matches.
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