In India, cricket is a religion and its stars are nothing short of superstars. They dominate the headlines and are the cynosure of every room they walk into. Although it is not the national sport, cricket is what the nation breathes. While the same isn’t true of Kabaddi, it a sport that originated in India and one that is dominated by the country.
While India are the No.1 ranked ODI and Test side in the world right now, they are reigning Kabaddi world champions. The sport itself might be vastly different but stars from both sports share certain similarities.
Here are 5 cricketers and their kabaddi equivalents:
Rohit Kumar and Rohit Sharma
Aside from sharing their first names, the two Rohits have a lot of things in common. Both Rohit Kumar and Rohit Sharma are incredibly talented and have both shown just how good they can be for the national side.
Style and elegance is one major thing that both players have in common. While Sharma’s cover drive and pull shot leaves fans wanting for more, Kumar’s running hand touch not only leaves the audience short of words but also like the esurient bees, wanting more and more.
Rohit Kumar is the captain of the Bengaluru Bulls in the Pro Kabaddi League while Rohit Sharma is the captain of the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. They both lead by example and both have won their respective domestic tournaments as a player.
While Rohit Kumar won the title with Patna Pirates in season three, his first with the club, Rohit Sharma won it as a youngster for Deccan Chargers in 2009.
Anup Kumar and MS Dhoni
If you are talking about captain cool, only one name springs to mind, MS Dhoni. Ask any Kabaddi fan and Anup Kumar is the name that you will immediately hear. Aside from being captains who helped India win the World Cup (MS Dhoni in 2011, Anup Kumar in 2016), Anup and Dhoni are similar in more ways than one.
Both have humble beginnings and didn’t have it all their own way on their rise to the top of the world. While Dhoni’s parents didn’t want him to take up cricket as a profession, Anup Kumar’s parents didn’t want their son to be professional Kabaddi player either. However, both have managed to carve a name for themselves thanks to their supreme skill.
If MS Dhoni has the famous “Helicopter shot”, then Anup Kumar has the “toe touch” that leaves the fans in rapture, wanting more. As a skipper, both players inspire confidence and their ability to remain calm in crucial situations make them one of the best in the world. Being captain of India in any sport isn’t easy, more so, when it is in a sport watched by a billion people and a sport invented by the country, but both players have remained incredibly calm.
The immense pressure they are under is beyond belief but both players continue to remain calm and composed while captaining their country. They are known for backing players to the hill and consistently infuse young blood to the side.
Surender Nada and Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The job of a defender and a death bowler are very similar in more ways than one. Both know that while they need to defend and ensure that the opponent (raider in Kabaddi, batsman in cricket) doesn’t get away, the onus is not on them at all times to come up with something special. Yet, both Surender Nada and Bhuvneshwar Kumar consistently deliver for their club and country.
The similarities between both players don’t end there. Both were born in a small town and hail from a state with rich sporting tradition. While Nada is an ankle hold specialist, courtesy of his incredible consistency in nailing down that skill, the same could be said of Bhuvi’s yorkers. Both manage to deliver in tricky situations when they are up against it and are one of the most consistent performers for their country.
Whether it was for U Mumba, Bengaluru Bulls or Haryana Steelers, Nada has been incredibly consistent and was an integral part of India’s World Cup win in 2016. Bhuvi is no different as the right arm fast bowler has been incredibly consistent in the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad and for India in the limited-overs.
Ajay Thakur and Yuvraj Singh
When you think of Indian players who deliver at the biggest stage, you can’t go much further than Yuvraj Singh, when it comes to cricket. The all-rounder was an integral part of India’s World T20 triumph in 2007 where he hit six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad and claimed the Man of the Series award in the 2011 World Cup which India won at home.
When it comes to Kabaddi, Ajay Thakur is that man for India. In the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, he was the Best Raider and scored 12 points in the final against Iran that India won 38-29. He was also part of the victorious Indian side in the 2014 Asian Games where they won the Gold medal.
When it comes to delivering when it matters most for their country, both Thakur and Yuvraj are one of the best the sport has ever seen. Both are tall players who make the most of their advantage. With Yuvraj, it is the elegant flicks and the big hits that go a mile even when it seems as though he didn’t hit it too hard, while for Thakur, it is his reach that helps him claim points that other players dare not even attempt.
Thakur was the priority pick for the Tamil Thalaivas in the 2017 season of Pro Kabaddi and Yuvraj has been one of the most sought-after players in the IPL ever since its inception. While both players are one of the best to have represented their country in the sport, their domestic form isn’t always up to the mark. Yuvraj Singh has consistently been amongst the most expensive buys in IPL but hasn’t always delivered on a consistent basis and the same could be said for Ajay Thakur, who provides bursts of brilliance but never consistently for his club.
Rahul Chaudhari and Virat Kohli
When it comes to being a prolific run-getter, there aren’t many better than Virat Kohli. The 28-year-old has redefined what it is to be consistent. Whether it is managing to close to 1,000 runs in a single edition of the IPL with four centuries or averaging in excess of 50 in T20Is, Kohli has been Mr. consistent across all formats and irrespective of the team that he has been playing for.
Currently the captain of the Telugu Titans, Rahul Chaudhari has been the best player in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League. He finished the 2016 season with an incredible 146 points, the most by any player in that season and no player has scored more raid points than him in the history of the PKL (700 and counting). Much like Kohli has been in the IPL, Chaudhari has been the epitome of consistency, racking in the points and leading by example. However, neither player has been able to win their respective domestic tournament (PKL or IPL).
They are both the poster boys for their respective sport and are one of the most marketable as well. While Chaudhari was part of India’s victorious 2016 World Cup campaign, Kohli, has been as well (in 2011). Both have the ability to win a game on their own and both look set to break many more records before they call time on their respective careers.