Sukesh Hegde: 'Picking youngsters has paid off'

Gujarat Fortunegiants, which has taken the opposition by surprise in the fifth edition of the Pro-Kabaddi League, sits second in 'Pool A' with 57 points from 16 games.

Gujarat Fortune Giants' captain Sukesh Hegde and coach Manpreet Singh.

Making its debut in the Pro-Kabaddi League, Gujarat Fortunegiants has taken the opposition by surprise in the fifth edition of the tournament. The side, owned by the Adani group, sits second in 'Pool A' with 57 points from 16 games, second only to fellow first-timer, Haryana Steelers.

Sukesh Hegde, 27, who played for the Telugu Titans in the first four seasons, is leading a young and relatively inexperienced side. The player from Mangalore, captaining a side for the first time in PKL, is, however, confident of getting the best out of his players. “The initial few games were a little challenging, but the players eventually gained experience. The youngsters are putting up strong performances and we're second in our pool. I think we're quite well off for now,” he said.

READ: Sukesh Hegde to lead the charge for youthful Fortunegiants

The team is coached by World Cup gold-medallist and two-time Asian Games gold-medallist Manpreet Singh, who has also previously played in the PKL.

When asked about the motive behind picking so many young players, the coach said, “Given that it is such a long season, we picked young players and I was sure they would perform. Many ridiculed us during the auction because we  had no big stars other than Sukesh (Hegde) or Fazel (Atrachali).

“Our side contains  young and inexperienced players, but look at where we are today. The move has certainly paid off.”

ALSO READ: Gujarat Fortunegiants ready to dazzle PKL, says coach Manpreet Singh

Hegde was quick to credit a portion of his team's success to the two Iranian players in his squad, Fazel Atrachali and Abozar Mighani. “They're very experienced and are strong pillars of our team. They make a powerful combination and are essential to our team,” he added.

As the tourney heads to Chennai, captain Hegde thinks the Giants needs to win its next few games to hold on to its place in the table and thereby book a spot in the semifinals.

ALSO READ: Fazel Atrachali: You don't earn money to look at it, but to spend it

“Our Pool is very tightly contested and we're facing stiff competition from the Haryana Steelers and Puneri Paltans. We have to win the next 3-4 games and get into a comfortable position. We can then give our bench a chance to play,” he concluded.

Manpreet, who had previously led the Patna Pirates to a PKL triumph in the third edition, will be hoping to taste similar success with the Giants.

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