Pro Kabaddi League 2018: "Coach's strategy worked wonderfully for us," says Sunil Kumar after win over Telugu Titans
The Telugu Titans' homecoming did not get off to the brightest of starts as the Vishal Bharadwaj-led side failed to hold onto a lead in the second half and lost 27-29 to the Gujarat Fortunegiants at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Vishakapatnam.
The first half produced some magical moments as both teams dealt a blow for blow before K Prapanjan's astute raiding combined with the good showing of the defensive unit as the visitors took a 17-12 lead going into the break.
The first five minutes of the second half saw a dominating spell of play from the hosts as the Fortunegiants failed to produce a single point before a two-point raid from Prapanjan seemed to instil the required confidence back into the visitors.
With the Titans facing a one-point deficit, Rahul Chaudhari produced a moment of brilliance as his super raid brought the lead to the hosts with a little less than ten minutes left on the clock.
The hosts then galloped away to an important 3-point lead which was put to the shadows by a magnificent show of strength from Prapanjan, who tumbled away with two points. An injury to Vishal Bharadwaj compounded issues on the Titans as the hosts' defence lacked bite that drifted the lead in the Fortunegiants favour.
With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Rahul Chaudhari's attempt to raid against a one-point deficit proved futile as he succumbed to the pressure of the clock that gave the Fortunegiants a two-point win in the end.
Quizzed on the Fortunegiants' strategy to prevent Chaudhari from running away with a point in the last raid, Gujarat's skipper Sunil Kumar said it was all a strategy planned by coach Manpreet Singh.
"Manpreet Sir told us a simple strategy to keep Rahul from collecting the final point and that was to draw him deep into the court. With six men on the mat, he was bound to try the bonus and that was when we planned to attack".
In the end, Chaudhari did not attempt the bonus but was instead a victim to the clock and the 'poster boy' Rahul's inefficiency was singled out by the Fortunegiants coach.
"There is no doubt that Rahul Chaudhari is a top raider. Yet, today he did not have a good game and that was a result of our team's good defence show".
However, he did not stop there but also emphasized on the fact that he expected a lot more from his team, which would go a long way in increasing his team's chances of putting up impressive shows in the playoffs.
"We had our moments in the game but we did not play up to our full potential. We could have played better and I expect a lot more from both the raiders and the defenders".
This win for the Gujarat Fortunegiants meant that the Telugu Titans fell to their fifth loss in a row and a visibly disappointed coach Sai Prasad played it down to the lack of cohesion in the team on the day.
"Our game was divided into two halves. The first half was to get the momentum and the second half was to play the game with speed on the mat as the main objective. Unfortunately for us, it did not pay off for us."
The loss means that the Titans will certainly need to pull up their socks and produce a performance which can meet the demands of the cauldron of noise at their home stadium.