PKL Season 10: Vinay’s kabaddi journey - from second fiddle to talisman

With his unwavering spirit and visible hunger for success, Vinay is well on his way to etching his name not just in Haryana Steelers’ kabaddi lore, but in the annals of PKL history.

Published : Dec 20, 2023 10:56 IST , CHENNAI - 11 MINS READ

Haryana Steelers’ raider Vinay in action during the 10th edition of the Pro Kabaddi League
Haryana Steelers’ raider Vinay in action during the 10th edition of the Pro Kabaddi League | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Haryana Steelers’ raider Vinay in action during the 10th edition of the Pro Kabaddi League | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After an indifferent start to the season, Haryana Steelers have found a ray of hope in raider Vinay who has helped the side’s recent turnaround of fortune in the ongoing tenth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League.

In PKL 10, the raider from Kair village in Najafgarh, Delhi is leading his team’s charge with explosive raids and strategic positioning. His 15-point haul against Puneri Paltan, which included a game-changing five-point raid, is a testament to his ability to single-handedly turn the tide of a match.

ALSO READ: PKL Season 10: Bengal Warriors defender Shubham Shinde keen to capitalise on early momentum

The 24-year-old has become synonymous with grit and athleticism on the kabaddi mat.

In five matches in PKL 10, Vinay has already notched up 42 raid points at an average of 8.2 per match with a 36 per cent success rate in raids where he has remained not-out for 76.25 per cent. All this at a time when the side’s star raider, Siddharth Desai, is still finding his rhythm in the league.

Yet, Vinay remains grounded. He doesn’t shy away from the responsibility that comes with being a main raider but approaches it with a calm focus and unwavering faith in his team. “I don’t take the pressure of expectation,” he tells S portstar, “I play according to the situation and follow my captain and coach.”

ALSO READ: PKL 10: Pardeep Narwal crosses 1600 career raid points during Bengaluru Bulls vs UP Yoddhas Pro Kabaddi League 2023 match

Orchestrating a resurgence

The Steelers’ early struggles in PKL 10 were a collective wake-up call. The 30-point loss to UP Yoddhas served as a harsh lesson, prompting introspection and strategic adjustments. “We slowed the games down and played with patience,” Vinay explains, alluding the turnaround to a shift in approach.

Coach Manpreet Singh plays a crucial role with his intense training sessions and meticulous planning for each opponent equipping the team with the tools to succeed. “He expects us to implement these things in our play,” Vinay says, “He gets a bit aggressive when we fail to do that in training.”

The former India player’s passion isn’t just reserved for training. During matches, his fiery instructions and unwavering belief in his players push the players to perform. “He always tells us to keep faith in our preparations,” Vinay adds.

Within this team, camaraderie reigns supreme. Jaideep Dahiya and Mohit Nandal, the young co-captains, are settling into their leadership roles and providing invaluable tactical guidance.

ALSO READ: PKL Season 10: Sagar Rathee settling into Tamil Thalaivas leadership role with fitness as top priority

“They tell us when to go for tackles, when to slow down the game, and when to go all guns blazing,” Vinay explains, emphasising the upside of seamless collaboration between raiders and defenders.

This collaborative spirit fuels the Steelers’ approach to high-pressure matches. “We try not to think too much about the occasion. We give our 100 per cent and implement what we’ve practised,” Vinay, who notched 129 raid points in 23 matches in his debut season in 2019 (PKL season 7), reveals.

Personal challenges

His journey in PKL hasn’t been without its challenges. A major muscle injury in his second season threatened to derail his career trajectory.

The gruelling PKL schedule demands not just fitness as a default but also swift recovery. “We take ice baths, swim, and follow strict recovery protocols,” Vinay explains. He looks at finding the balance between managing workload, fatigue and preventing injuries.

This is particularly key given speed is the hallmark of his brand of kabaddi.

“The strength and conditioning sessions helped me get faster,” he acknowledges, attributing his agility to a combination of fitness, diet, and constant learning.

With Desai, who was bought by the Steelers for a whopping Rs. 1 crore in the auction ahead of PKL 10, having a relatively quiet season compared to his own high standards, Vinay, who hails from the same village as Bengaluru Bulls’ coach Randhir Singh Sehrawat, has become the talisman of the team. 

His kabaddi journey began not on the polished mat but in the dusty fields of his village. “Kabaddi taught me discipline and never to give up,” he says.

Kabaddi for Vinay goes back to when he was in class eight, and he initially struggled to find his footing. Watching legendary players like Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar, inspired him to keep putting in the work but Vinay admits that he did consider quitting the sport.

“At some point, it seemed that I was not doing well in Kabaddi and once thought of quitting,” he reveals.

ALSO READ: Pro Kabaddi League: Full list of complete squads of all 12 teams in PKL 10

Fortunately, passion brought perseverance. He continued to play, honing his skills on the mud arenas of his village. His big break came when he was selected for PKL’s flagship New Young Players (NYP) program. This provided him with the platform to showcase his talent and eventually earn a spot in the Haryana Steelers squad. 

“When I got selected for PKL, I was playing junior nationals and I was more focused on my studies. In the trials, I performed well and got the chance to join the training camp and eventually the NYP program. Within two months, the Steelers had absorbed me,” he remembers.


With the PKL back to the multicity caravan format, Vinay and the Steelers are gearing up for the electrifying experience of playing in front of their home crowd in Panchkula.

“I’m eagerly waiting for our home matches. Haryana has a rich kabaddi tradition. The fanbase is knowledgeable and passionate and will be fully behind us when our home leg kicks off. It will motivate us to perform even better,” he says.  

His ultimate goal? To lift the PKL 10 trophy with his team. And with his unwavering spirit and visible hunger for success, Vinay is well on his way to etching his name not just in Haryana Steelers’ kabaddi lore, but in the annals of PKL history.

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