Iranian tackle takes grip in Pro Kabaddi 2018

Puneri Paltan captain and India international, Girish Ernak, is of the view that fellow tacklers have already assimilated the unconventional Iranian catching technique into their game.

Heading the PKL season six tacklers list (29 tackle points in eight games for Paltan), Puneri Paltan captain and expert tackler Girish Ernak, is rated among the experts in the defence.   -  PKL

Indians head the tacklers list in Pro Kabaddi 2018 so far, even as the Iranian technique in trapping raiders, witnessed in full flow at the Asian Games 2018, is gaining currency among the players and followers.

Puneri Paltan captain and India international, Girish Ernak, is of the view that fellow tacklers have already assimilated the unconventional Iranian catching technique into their game.

Heading the PKL season six tacklers list (29 tackle points in eight games for Paltan), he is rated among the experts in the defence.

Excerpts from a chat at the Balewadi stadium:

Defenders have been elevated to leadership roles in many PKL teams this season. Can you explain why?

Catchers, or those in defensive roles, are mostly always on the mat and more aware of the match situation. It is tough for raiders to think calmly, which is expected from a team leader, because a lot of thoughts are swirling in his mind. The pressure on raider-captain is more than a defender-captain. The latter is observing his raider going into the rival half and can plan the team move accordingly.

Under your leadership, the defenders have played key roles in winning matches for the Puneri Paltan so far (five wins and one tie in eight league appearances). What do you think about that?

Defenders play with a free mind and spend more time on the mat as compared to the raiders. This is why a defender is better placed to win matches. The frequency of raiders staying out is also higher, especially on the third raid (which is a do or die raid). A defender’s role is more on the side of caution than the risks a raider takes and hence, he can be more influential in his teams performance.

The Iranian defenders have made quite an impact in PKL. Fazal Atrachali (U Mumba) and Abozar Mighani (Telugu Titans) are prime examples…

The Iranians do not do regulation catching. From my experience, I can tell you that they go for holds below the waist and target the thighs of the raider. They are also adept at using both hands into a type of embrace. It is difficult for a raider to escape a thigh hold or double-leg hold, compared to slipping away from a defensive chain or a block around a raider.

The Iranian form of defending at the 2018 Asian Games against India was very aggressive. Is the approach catching on?
Our players in the Pro Kabaddi League also use this technique and go for the two-handed dive or thigh holds. I don’t wish to take names of Indians, but everyone in the defensive unit is familiar with the Iranian approach.

Are there any other trends in Pro Kabaddi results this season you wish to point out?

Till the last 30 seconds, no team is sure of winning. Many games have swung in the last minute and no player knows whether he will finish on the losing or winning side. The 30-seconds rule has forced players, both raiders and defenders, to use technique in a compressed time frame.

PKL is said to be a life-changer for players. How has your experience been with the league?
The league gave me name and fame. When Pro Kabaddi was launched, I was a contract player with Air India and got selected to play for Patna Pirates. After two seasons there, Bharat Petroleum approached me with a job offer. I worked harder in next seasons and moved to Bengal Warriors, before joining Puneri Paltan.

My excellence in defence gave me the chance to travel to Dubai (Kabaddi Masters) and Indonesia (Asian Games). I am among the leading the tacklers in PKL so far and will try to remain in front.

PKL 2018 tacklers list (top five):

1. Girish Ernak (29 tackle points)
2. Manjeet Chillar (19)
3. Fazal Atrachali (19)
4. Abozar Mighani (18)
5. Ravi Kumar (16)