Prior to the start of the Pro Kabaddi league season this year, 21-year-old Vikas Kandola suffered a rib injury. The raider, who was the highest scorer for Haryana Steelers last season, missed three matches due to the injury but the last two months have seen Kandola making a comeback and scoring 107 points in 14 matches.

Kandola’s consistent scoring has also meant that the Haryana team has climbed to the third point in the points’ tally with Kandola now placed at the sixth spot in the leading scorers of the league this season. With the Haryana Steelers playing their home leg at Panchkula starting Saturday, the youngster is confident of maintaining his fine form and help the team qualify for the semi-finals.

“I had suffered a rib injury before the start of the season and had to miss the opening matches of the team. So the main focus initially was to avoid injury and to contribute for the team on my return. If the raiders do well for the team, it also shows in the confidence of the defenders and I am happy that I am scoring and helping my team win. Playing at Panchkula too will act as a boost for us as our main target will be to win our matches here and book our spot directly for the semi-finals,” said Kandola.

Son of a farmer, Kandola would initially play Kabaddi at his school in the village Budain near Jind. Kandola was initially picked up by Dabang Delhi in the 2016 season of Pro Kabaddi League. The youngster featured in four matches for the Delhi team before he was picked by the Haryana team in 2017. Kandola played in nine matches in the 2017 season and scored 58 points before suffering an injury.

Last year, the youngster was the highest scorer for Haryana as he scored a total of 177 points and scored five super raids in the season. This year, Kandola has so far scored five super raids and is only behind Pardeep Narwal of Patna Pirates and Maninder Singh of Bengal Warriors in terms of scoring super raids. “I started kabaddi on the insistence of my elder brother, who is also a national-level player.

I would also watch Pro Kabaddi League matches and think about playing in the league someday. I did not get many chances during my maiden season for Dabang Delhi in 2016. When I got injured in 2017, I had to miss rest of the matches for Haryana Steelers. But making a comeback last year and scoring 177 points for the team helped my confidence. When we started the sport, we started to get a job. But now with the league happening, it acts as a motivation for all the players,” added Kandola, who scored 13 points against Patna Pirates earlier this week.

Playing in the league in the past has also meant that the youngster has competed against the likes of Rakesh Kumar, who is now the coach of Haryana Steelers, and Anup Kumar, coach of Puneri Paltan. With Rakesh Kumar now coaching the Haryana team, Kandola spends his time training under the coach. “Both of them are my role models and to compete against them was a special feeling. Rakesh bhai is now the coach and his inputs helps a youngster like me. He has told me to focus on my technique and also how to plan for the super raids. He also told us about the difference between making a raid against two players and a raid against 3-4 players,” shared Kandola.