Pro Kabaddi auction: Siddharth Desai 'ready to dance' after becoming costliest buy

At Rs 145 lakh, Siddharth Desai was the costliest buy on the first day of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 7 auctions held in Mumbai on Monday.

Siddharth Desai racked up 218 points in his first Pro Kabaddi season with U Mumba.

Telugu Titans' new signing Siddharth Desai is ecstatic about being a part of the new franchise and, understandably, about the money it spent to get his services. At ₹145 lakh, the 27-year-old Maharashtra native was the costliest buy on the first day of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 7 auctions held in Mumbai on Monday.

FOLLOW DAY 2 OF PKL AUCTIONS HERE

Siddharth had a base price of ₹30 lakh but Telugu Titans took everyone by surprise by starting the bidding process at ₹100 lakh. A small bidding war ensued with Tamil Thalaivas, and briefly with Puneri Paltan, but the Titans eventually got their man for a sum that made him the second most expensive player in PKL history.

Speaking after his move was confirmed, Siddharth said he was "ready to dance" when the bidding started for him. "I was expecting 70-80 (lakh) bids, honestly. I was very happy that Telugu Titans started with 100 lakh instead," he said.

PKL Auction: As it happened, Siddharth Desai for 1.45 crore, Rahul Chauhari to Tamil Thalaivas and more

"I know how difficult it is to become a kabaddi payer. I did a lot of hard work growing up and I am happy to be where I am now," he said, adding, "I do not feel the pressure of the price tag. I am taking care of my diet and fitness and I will give my 100% for the team."

Siddharth Desai's last season in numbers:

  • 50 - Fastest to reach 50 raid points
  • 100- Equalled the record for 100 raid points (held by Rahul Chaudhari)
  • 200- Was the first rookie to score 200 raids points in a season
  • 1- All of this in his first PKL season. An absolute BEAST!


In his debut PKL campaign with U Mumba last year, he took home the Best Debutant award after scoring 218 raid points, the third best of the season. But he picked up a shoulder injury in November and underwent surgery in the post-season. With doubts about his fitness, U Mumba released him at the end of his contract but he says he is back to full fitness and will be back on the mat from the start.

Speaking before the day's auctions started, Jaipur Pink Panthers' owner Abhishek Bachchan did confirm his return to fitness, saying, "He had insane stats last season, he's a monster on the mat and off the mat, he is a lovely person. He is fit, the league has provided us with medical reports."

The Telugu Titans table at the Pro Kabadddi League 2019 auctions.   -  Special Arrangement

 

READ | Recovering Siddharth Desai looking forward to Season 7 auction

Titans boss on new strategy and experimentation

Speaking of the big money buy and the Titans' strategy during the auctions, owner Sreenivas Sreeramaneni said that they plan to build their team around a good raider and that is why they went big, from the start, for Siddharth.

"We maintained Rahul Chaudhari for six years and now we want to keep Siddharth for that long too, hopefully. We wanted to change strategy this time and we think Siddharth will be a leader for our team." 

Telugu Titans raised eyebrows with the purchase of 27-year-old Dewitt Jennings, the first American to enter PKL, and Sreenivas let in on the experiment.

"For the first time, we got a US player. He plays in the NFL as a running back," he said, speaking about Dewitt. Running backs are part of the offensive backfield, the area behind the line of scrimmage, in American football and their main qualities are pace (to get free of their markers), good hands (to catch passes in tight areas) and physical strength to execute blocks – qualities which sound perfect for a kabaddi player, at least on paper.

"If we can teach him the techniques, you will see a big star," Sreenivas added in a hopeful tone. Time will tell if on-paper qualities will translate on the mat, but it is an exciting experiment nonetheless.