Ravi Kumar watched from the sidelines as the Steelers kicked off their season 7 campaign with a win over Puneri Paltan - a Paltan he was a part of for four out of five seasons prior to this one. Needless to say, he’d have wanted to be out there on the mat doing his thing against his former team.
Then, the Steelers unfortunately slipped to three defeats in a row. Again, Ravi Kumar didn’t have a lot to do. We had hit dire straits, and Ravi must have been aching to assume the position of the right cover and pick his team up!
Cut to our fifth match of the season against the Pirates, Ravi Kumar gets a start. And boy, did he make it count!
With our backs against the wall and our defence faltering, we were facing three-time champions Patna Pirates on their home turf. Our skipper Dharmaraj Cheralathan or ‘Anna’, as he his fondly referred to, required support. Ravi Kumar turned out to be just what he was looking for. Ravi ended up as the joint top-scorer among defenders, scoring four precious tackle points – every bit as valuable as a High 5.
He seized the right moments, drying up the Pirates’ scoring. Seconds after Pardeep Narwal scaled Mt. 900, Ravi successfully super tackled the record-breaker to further our lead beyond Patna’s reach.
In his first start of the season, Ravi grabbed the opportunities, ankles, and thighs with both hands to put in a stellar performance.
For the next five matches, the Dhaakad Boys rode high on the confidence from their performance against Patna. They went around the country registering wins in each of the three cities they visited to make it four wins in five games. Ravi Kumar too, put in a couple of decent contributions.
The team was in great spirits before their second match of the Delhi leg, and that didn’t change after a 41-25 rout of the Fortunegiants! There were quite a few good performances from our side in that game, but it will be remembered for the astounding display of tackling that Ravi Kumar put up!
He attempted 7 tackles and converted 6 of them to achieve an incredible tackle strike rate of 86%. Our right cover had everything covered, and Gujarat’s raiders stood no chance with Ravi Kumar in that sort of mood. Just to further prove that these jaw-dropping displays of strong defending weren’t anomalies, Ravi Kumar backed up his 6-point performance against Gujarat with 4 more tackle points including an important Super Tackle against Puneri Paltan.
Now that we’ve seen just how much damage Ravi can inflict, will this be the season where he makes space for himself among the league’s top covers?
A look at his past record will reveal that he definitely has the potential to do so. As a 20-year-old in his first ProKabaddi season, Ravi Kumar notched up 37 tackle points at an impressive average of 2.53 tackles per match. This included a mammoth 8-point game, which remains his best performance in the PKL. Ravi Kumar spent most of the next four seasons under the shadow of some of ProKabaddi’s biggest names but managed to churn out 79 points nonetheless.
Aged 25 now, Ravi Kumar has matured and has five grueling seasons of ProKabaddi behind him. He has the hunger, and as we witnessed against the Pirates, the Fortunegiants and the Paltan, there’s no doubt he’s got the skill.
At Haryana, with someone of Anna’s stature to mentor him, Ravi Kumar has all the ingredients required to become this season’s breakthrough cover defender. If he does, there won’t be any surprise on our side. Just a whole lot of pride.