Pro Kabaddi 2016: Telugu Titans captain Rahul Chaudhari reveals he is playing through pain barrier
A visibly tired and thirsty Sandeep Narwal entered the press conference room along with coach J Udayakumar and energetic raider Rahul Chaudhari. After taking a sip of water, the trio began to talk about Telugu Titans’ win over home team Bengaluru Bulls.
Rahul Chaudhari has been playing through injury this season and he elaborated on it. “I am playing through pain and hence, my abilities have also taken a hit – most significantly, my running hand touch, which I am unable to execute.” said Rahul, before his coach revealed that he is basically playing with just one hand.
Earlier this season, the Bulls had got the better of Telugu Titans in Hyderabad and the team had come into the game with the mentality of taking revenge.
“We had just 1 thing in our mind – to beat the team that beat us at our home,” revealed Udaya.
Rahul said that the team were hurting from that defeat before the match, but this win has put to the pain to rest. “It feels great that we beat them at their home after they had inflicted a loss on us in Hyderabad,” said the raider, jubilantly.
“I knew Rohit’s weaknesses”
Sandeep Narwal and Rohit Kumar were teammates as Patna Pirates won the title last season. Yesterday, however, the duo was facing each other for the first time and the Telugu Titans all-rounder acknowledged that he knew Rohit’s strengths and weaknesses, being former teammates.
He inflicted two super tackles on Rohit Kumar and explained how he was able to do the seemingly impossible.
“Yes, of course it helps. You know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. And as I played with Rohit last season, I knew that if I try to use my pace against him, he will turn and catch me off-guard,” said the 23-year-old. “So, I observed him in the initial few minutes and saw that he was using the inside movement and so I decreased my pace to block him.”
He said that the coach had given them the confidence to believe in their abilities even when the odds are stacked against them and that’s what helped him bring the Bulls’ raiding department down time and again.
“Coach sir told us that even if there are only 2 of us on the mat, we have to take it to the third raid. He had the belief that even two Titans would prove too much for the opponents in the do or die raid. His planning helped us succeed in the end,” Sandeep explained.
At the end of the first half, the odds were against the Titans as they were down to just 1 man – Rahul Chaudhari and staring at an all out. The boisterous raider, however, won his team a point before the Titans completed a super tackle and slowly restored parity in terms of men on the mat.
“After I was the lone man standing, I knew that I had to get a touch point, not just a bonus point, in the buzzer raid,” explained the young raider.
“The strength of our defence is such that even if there are only 2 of us on the mat, we can take down any opposition and that’s exactly what happened. I got a touch point before Mahalingam replaced me and completed a super tackle with Sandeep. Then, I was substituted back in and was fortunate enough to get one more point to help the team have 4 players on the mat,” Rahul recalled.
“We are getting better as the tournament progresses”
Talking about the season, coach Udayakumar accepted they took their time to settle in with the new signings coming in. They had lost 4 of their first 5 matches, before finding their groove and win 3 in a row to sit in the top 4.
“We have now entered the top 4 after initial hiccups. The integration of all the players we bought in the auction took a little bit of time and now we look better,” explained the Titans coach. “Earlier, only one of our departments was working, but as the tournament is progressing, so are we. Playing together is helping us become a better unit.”
Ahead of the fourth season, defensive players were bought for massive money by the Titans with the likes of Jasmer Singh Gulia, Sandeep Narwal, and Sandeep Dhull among a few. The coach mentioned that it was the strategy employed by the management to ensure injuries don’t hamper the team’s progress.
“Every player has a different role in our team, but the squad depth is such that despite injuries, of which we’ve had 4-5, the balance of the team is not disturbed,” he continued. “Our strike raider Rahul is bringing us a lot of points while both the Sandeeps (Narwal and Dhull) give us balance at the back and have emerged as the backbone of our team.”
Sandeep Narwal – the raider – to return?
In the first two seasons, Sandeep Narwal the raider came to the forefront, but in the last 2 seasons, we’ve seen him involved more with the defense. The youngster admitted that his role in the team is different now, but promised that the boisterous Sandeep is not lost and will come to the fore when needed.
Coah Udayakumar highlighted his importance to the team by saying, “The role he (Sandeep) has in the team is to stay on the mat for as long as possible. When Sandeep is there in our defence, there is added confidence in the team. So, even if he goes for raids, he has to control himself.”
On the argument with Rohit during the match, a smiling Sandeep said, “We are friends off the mat, but during the match, we are opponents. We are really good friends, so let’s just say that we were having fun during the match.”
The coach highlighted the aggressive nature of the sport and said that his job as a coach is to let the players channel that correctly, but not curb their instincts.
The Titans face last season’s semi-finalists Puneri Paltan in Bengaluru on Friday before moving to Kolkata for the next leg.