UP Yoddha keen to perform well in the home leg

UP Yoddha is currently placed sixth in the overall standings and the upcoming home-leg assumes great importance if it has to reach the playoffs again.

L-R: Jasvir Singh, head coach UP Yodhha with Col. Vinod Bisht, head of U.P. Yoddha and captain Rishank Devadiga.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Having joined the Pro Kabaddi League in 2017, UP Yoddha has not been a pushover. Aided by the exploits of the Rishank Devadiga-Nitin Tomar combine, the team reached the playoffs last season.

Currently placed sixth in the overall standings, the upcoming home-leg assumes great importance if it has to reach the playoffs again. The team plays five matches in seven days at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida.

The busy period will not tire the team’s players, according to Devadiga. “The schedule does get hectic sometimes but we are geared up for it. We are conscious of our need to do well in our home matches,” he said.

Yoddha plays three matches in three days, beginning on November 2, before a day’s rest. Jasvir Singh, the coach, admitted it was “a challenge.”

“It is a challenge, but the players undergo endurance and fitness training during the rest of the year so it isn’t a big hindrance. A 24-hour period of rest is good enough,” Jasvir said.

All eyes will be on its star player and captain, Devadiga, who had gathered 165 raid points in 21 matches last season and had thrived in a fruitful partnership with Tomar.

Despite the partnership split — Tomar was snaffled by Puneri Paltan — the raiding capabilities haven’t deteriorated. The raiders average 22.43 raiding points in the season, the fourth best in the competition, with 157 raid points in seven matches.

Talking about his team’s raiding strength, Devadiga said, “One doesn’t have any control over the auction. But this season, too, our raiding department is good. We play an attacking brand.”

This is Devadiga’s second season with the Yoddha, having represented U Mumba before — a different experience that he seems to enjoy. “This is a different exposure for me. U Mumba had lots of stars and this is a [relatively] young team. There is responsibility on my shoulders, and I’m able to be more independent here,” Devadiga said.

Reflecting on the season so far, Devadiga said, “Our performance has been satisfactory, as we have been playing without our star defender, Jeeva [Kumar]. So, even without Jeeva our performance has been satisfactory. The home-leg is very important to us and we will be giving our best.”