The 20-year-old, who stands at five-feet, is a handful for opponents and was declared the perfect defender of the ultimate.
Dilip Khandavi waited, hand on the kho kho pole, virtually taunting his opponent. He’d maintain that place, barely crouched, and await the attacker to make his transfer earlier than darting effectively out of attain.
He’d slalom between attackers, alter tempo and course seamlessly, activate a dime, slap his thigh to showboat a bit, and keep effectively out of attain for 2 minutes and 4 seconds. And he’d stay unbeaten within the Final Kho Kho remaining on Sunday, on the Balewadi Sports activities Complicated in Pune.
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The 20-year-old is the pocket dynamo of the Odisha Juggernauts, and he’d use his 5-foot (153 cm) body, coupled together with his measured motion on the mat, to maintain the Telugu Yoddhas from away from what may have been a vital contact level. However he didn’t give it away, and it made a giant distinction for the Juggernauts who walked away with the title after registering a one-point (46-45) win to grow to be the primary champions of the newest franchise-based sports activities league in India.
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— Odisha Juggernauts (@od_juggernauts) September 4, 2022
For his efforts within the remaining, Khandavi was given the ‘Defender of the Match’ award.
In a group of tall, athletic gamers, Khandavi’s stature turns out to be useful when he’s on the mat. The tempo is there, however his small body presents quite a lot of bother for attackers trying to tag him
“In the event you’re that small, an attacker has to work more durable and attain additional to attempt to get a contact. And that simply provides you extra time to flee,” defined group captain Milind Chavarekar to Scroll.in after the match. “It additionally retains him a bit unnoticed when there are a number of defenders on the mat.”
Going undetected throughout a kho kho match is an enviable accomplishment. However, for all the yr he had taken a hiatus from the game, he wasn’t forgotten. A lot in order that, he recalled, he had no clue that his title had been submitted for the participant draft.
However he was picked by the Juggernauts as a Class A participant, which means a cool Rs 5 lakh paycheck that, he asserted, will do wonders for his household.
“(Getting drafted in Class A) felt just a little good as a result of (my household and I) felt like now some cash will come our means,” he informed Scroll.in a day earlier than the ultimate.
“I may assist my household as a result of that they had been supporting me all all through. They informed me to go for the league. ‘All of us are right here, no less than you go and make a reputation for your self’,” he recalled their phrases to him.
“All of them needed to go away their schooling (due to monetary troubles).”
Hailing from Krishna Nagar, a village within the Surgana taluka of Nashik, Khandavi, his 4 brothers and oldsters labored on the household farm, toiling on the land to develop rice and pulses. On the aspect, he learnt play kho kho alongside together with his older brothers seven years in the past. His exploits caught the eye of Mandar Deshmukh, a coach who took him to a sports activities hostel in Nashik the place he stayed for six years, honing his abilities.
It was throughout that spell that he represented the state group within the senior nationals six instances, after bagging the ‘finest participant’ award within the junior nationals.
However when the pandemic struck, Khandavi – the youngest in his household – returned dwelling to his village and began to observe within the farming footsteps of his household. It’s there he remained regardless of restrictions being lifted, staying away from the world of aggressive sport for the previous yr.
“I used to be on a break for the previous one yr and labored on the farm. There is no such thing as a kho kho floor within the village, nor does anybody play the sport there, so there was no observe. I used to play cricket as a substitute,” he mentioned.
“Then I acquired information that I had been chosen for UKK. Once I got here to the camp, that was the primary time I acquired again to taking part in.”
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Lack of contact with the sport didn’t essentially imply he was unfit. The exhausting work on the farm – and people occasional cricketing jaunts – saved him match sufficient to hit the Final Kho Kho mat operating.
However it was a brand new world for Khandavi.
He remembered a time when, throughout these years on the hostel in Nashik, each meal – aside from events like Independence Day – was a easy plate of daal-bhaat (rice and daal). Not even a pickle to interrupt the monotony.
Now – for the previous few weeks in a fancy Pune lodge – he’d been uncovered to totally different cuisines.
“It’s a really totally different world right here. I take a look at different folks and what they’re consuming, so I strive every part as effectively,” he added.
On Sunday he earned a money award for Rs 50,000 for being the defender of the match. All of it goes into the financial savings he’s hoping to develop sufficient to assist his household.
Quickly he’ll return to the mud home with a tin-sheet roof that’s been his dwelling. However now that he’s had a style of what’s in retailer on this new dimension to the sport, not does he have a cause to wander off from the game.