Pro Kabaddi League 2018: Titans' Rahul Chaudhari thrilled with opening win, Thalaivas coach rues defensive lapses
The Telugu Titans continued their dominance over the Tamil Thalaivas as they registered a 33-28 win over their southern neighbours in their very first match of the season. The Titans are a perfect 4-0 now over the Thalaivas. For the second night in a row, defensive struggles plagued the Thalaivas and Tuesday's defeat meant back-to-back losses for the Ajay Thakur-led franchise.
There was just one All Out in the game and that went to the Titans three minutes before half-time. That proved to be the difference in the end as despite the Thalaivas' best efforts they couldn't quite effect an All Out of their own. The Titans were excellent throughout; they didn't make a single substitution and played the entire game with the same seven that they began with. On top of that, every single player scored a point.
Rahul Chaudhari had 9 points, ably supported by Mohsen Maghsoudlou (7 points) and Nilesh Salunke (5 points). The tackle points were also superbly spread out across all four positions.
Speaking after the game Rahul explained the game-plan that they had: "Mohsen supported me very well today. We had a strategy of playing with five on the mat and we had decided between Nilesh and myself that one of us should always be there. We know that Ajay is very good at getting Bonus Points and we wanted to prevent that."
The Titans used all their three Iranian stars - Abozar Mighani, Farhad Milaghardan and Mohsen Maghsoudlou - and captain Vishal Bharadwaj said that they are going to be a crucial part of their season.
"They are all top players and they are all very fit. They occupy important positions in our team and are definitely going to help us be very successful", said Vishal.
The Thalaivas meanwhile for a second successive night had to play catch-up after they fell into an early hole. Captain Ajay Thakur was good again with 9 points and Amit Hooda had an excellent night in the right corner with 6 points from just 5 tackles and zero missed tackles.
Despite that, defensive errors sentenced them to a second successive defeat, a fact that was not lost on their coach Edacherry Bhaskaran.
"Our defence let us down for a second time. There were a lot of errors in crucial moments. Just many small ones at bad times. We will look to get it rectified. Titans played well today. They always kept us under pressure", said coach Bhaskaran.
He added: "Last night (Monday) and today you saw that we are able to stay in games, but at the moment we don't seem able to turn the match after conceding a lead. So we need to work on that. Ideally, we would like to build an early lead and put the pressure on the opponent like what we did against Patna."
Athul MS, who impressed against the UP Yoddha on Monday, started against the Titans in place of Surjeet Singh. Jasvir Singh though - bought by the Thalaivas in the auctions - had another unimpressive outing. He made 14 raids but was successful only twice and had 8 empty raids with a paltry 2 points to show for his efforts.
Ajay though defended his veteran teammate saying: "We have not used him a lot as well. He's struggling a little bit with confidence. I'm sure as the league progresses he will come good."
The presence of veterans like Jasvir and Manjeet Chhillar was expected to ease the burden on captain Ajay, but in the two defeats so far they've allowed frustration to get the better of them and been temperamental. Asked if he thought it was an issue, coach Bhaskaran said it was something they needed to work on.
"We need to control our emotions. These things are happening because they get upset when something doesn't happen as they expect. We've seen this in the last two matches", said the Thalaivas coach.
"But we have 22 matches totally. We will look to iron out a lot of these things sooner rather than later", he added.
The Tamil Thalaivas have another southern derby in store on Wednesday as they play the Bengaluru Bulls. The Titans have three days to rest before they take on the UP Yoddha on Saturday.