Pro Kabaddi League: Telugu Titans - An intermittent display of brilliance
One team in the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) that recruited good domestic players and had a stable head at the helm was the Telugu Titans. The team from Visakhapatnam showed plenty of promise, but they narrowly missed out on the semi-final spot.
The team led by a prolific player in Rajaguru Subramanian was coached by J. Udayakumar. The team is owned by Veera Sports constituting entrepreneurs Srini Sreeramaneni, Mahesh Kolli and Gautham Nedurumalli of NED Group. With Port Trust Golden Jubilee Stadium as its home ground, this team from the south was determined to prove its mettle in the league. Though the Telugu Titans had the talent to go all the way, as shown in their home matches, but their inconsistent run resulted in a premature end to the tournament for them.
A horrid start for Telugu Titans
All eyes were on the Titans as they played Anup Kumar-led U Mumba in their opening match. The match ended in a stalemate with both teams scoring 35 points. Rahul Chaudhari and Sukesh Hegde shone for the Titans with 12 and 7 points respectively, while raiding.
In the next game with Jaipur Pink Panthers though, the Titans had to concede defeat as they managed to score 32 points, but let the Panthers post a mammoth 46. In the subsequent match with Patna Pirates too, the Titans could not get the victory and had to concede defeat. Rahul Chaudhari continued to display his best on the ground and made 11 raids with Deepak Nivas Hudda finishing a close second with 10 raid points.
Dabang Delhi were their first victims of the tournament with the scoreline reading 39-35 in Telugu Titans’ favour. Rahul Chaudhari had another stellar game while Deepak Nivas was not far behind. However, this victory was short-lived as Bengal Warriors won 40-35. However, the worst was yet to come for Telugu Titans as they suffered a 29-49 loss to Jaipur Pink Panthers resulting in a 4th loss for the team in just 6 matches. They won their final match before the home leg 42-36 against Puneri Paltan.
Playing their first match in front of the home crowd, the Telugu Titans were charged up and pulled out a brave 28-28 draw with Bengaluru Bulls. Their next match was one of the most thrilling encounters of the tournament as they won 44-43 to U Mumba with Rahul Chaudhari amassing 23 raid points.
The biggest victory by margin of points in the first season went to Telugu Titans as they ran riot against the team that finished bottom at the end of the tournament – Puneri Paltan. Having already beaten their opponents a few days ago, the Titans took their performance several notches higher and emerged on the winning side of a 60-24 win. Their final match at home was another victory for the Titans as they beat Dabang Delhi 45-26 to cap off a brilliant leg and rekindle hopes of a semi-final spot for them.
They drew and won their next 2 matches against Bengal Warriors and Patna Pirates respectively and went into the final match with a slim chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage. However, Bengaluru Bulls pipped the Telugu Titans to the semi-final spot with a narrow 27-26 win.
Rahul Chaudhari finished 2nd in the top raiders list at the end of the tournament while no defender from the team featured in the top 20 defenders of the tournament list.
Titans need to be more consistent
Despite a few brilliant games and impressive raids, the Titans did not meet expectations they had aspired for. Intermittent triumphs and oscillation between ends without a consistent movement deterred this team from progressing further in the league.
Though the inaugural season was more of a lesson for the team to harness its inherent strength and capitalise on its incredible raids, they will have to strategise their game to achieve more.
With the team shifting base to Hyderabad for the second season, they would look to better their performance from last season and improve their away form to finish in the top spot.