Season six of the Pro Kabaddi League was a disappointing one for Tamil Thalaivas. It finished bottom of the table in its zone and coach Edachery Bhaskaran pointed out that injuries to key players through the season was the foremost reason for its poor showing.
The ex-India coach was right, in part, to blame injuries for the team's dismal performance as key raiders CPO Surjeet Singh, Sukesh Hegde, Jasvir Singh and M.S. Athul were all injured at various points of the season. That was a reason why the team looked at players' fitness and history of injuries before making a move during the auction.
"We have picked a good squad but even last year we had a good set of players. We kept losing one or the other through injury so I tried to select players who have had least injuries in the past," he said speaking of the team's strategy.
Apart from that, the team sat down to analyse what went wrong in the off-season and the first big concern was to get at least one other quality raider to support Ajay Thakur, its star performer for the last two campaigns.
"We badly needed a raider who would combine well with Ajay. He scored over 200 points (in PKL 6) and had a great outing individually. But he strained a lot and every time he went on to raid, it looked like a punishment. I didn’t want that to repeat," he said.
With that in mind, the team fought to sign Siddharth Desai and Nitin Tomar on Monday but could get neither.
While the team was priced out for the former by Telugu Titans, the latter was retained by Puneri Paltan using the Final Bid Match (FBM) after Thalaivas won the bidding war.
Bhaskaran "wanted a superstar" as his second raider and when he lost out on the above two, the team went all-in for Rahul Chaudhari as it knew that Telugu Titans exhausted its two FBM cards and could not steal him from their noses like Paltan did with Nitin.
The team also strategised to make sure it had a good cover going into season 7. It bought Iranian Milad Sheibak (for ₹10 lakh) as he is "Iran’s second choice right corner behind Abozar Mighani" and he would have a learnt a lot playing alongside him.
The coach also let in that the team will use 18-year-old Sagar this season. "We had identified him last year, but he was barely seventeen and a half years old. He will make substitute appearances in this edition."
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