Tamil Thalaivas scripted an incredible turnaround to reach the Pro Kabaddi League playoffs for the first time in the tournament’s history. The 43-28 win over UP Yoddhas at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad last Wednesday sealed the deal for Thalaivas.
The season started in dramatic fashion for Thalaivas as Pawan Sehrawat, its biggest star, was stretchered off within the first 10 minutes during the opening game against Gujarat Giants.
Following the setback, the team registered just one win in the first six games.
Tamil Thalaivas journey in PKL 9
To make matters worse, coach J. Uday Kumar resigned, citing personal reasons, leaving the team in a vulnerable position.
That Thalaivas was on the mat when former India coach Ashan Kumar took over the reins would be an understatement. But what followed was astonishing - the team registered 9 wins and three draws in the next 16 outings and climbed its way to the top six.
The 61-year-old coach, who previously worked with Iran and South Korea, proved that he still had tricks up his sleeve though it was a big challenge when he got on board. However, Ashan’s methods paid off.
“I was given the responsibility of the team which had done badly in the first six matches. It was evident that the players were under severe psychological pressure,” Ashan told Sportstar.
The new coach said he had planned to give his players downtime and an opportunity to reassess and refocus. “I was confident that if they gave it a fresh start, they would be able to turn things around,” he said.
Ashan’s calm approach when dealing with tricky situations worked wonders with his wards. He felt that by easing their nerves and showing them respect, he could bring the best out of them.
“When assessing a situation, it is vital to show composure and give players the respect they deserve it will contribute a great deal to resolving issues,” he said.
Thalaivas appeared inexperienced and possessed a hapless attack that was unable to get into the grooves in the early stages of the season.
“I noted that players with potential were sitting outside, and Ajinkya was one of the talents that should not be sitting on the sidelines,” Ashan said of the team’s performance and selection of players in the seven.
Discipline, hard work, and diet are the three most vital aspects of every kabaddi player, according to Ashan. He said, “I have an Army background, I could not tolerate indiscipline, and could never compromise on feebleness. For me, the game is the second priority, discipline comes first.”
About the road ahead, Ashan is confident that he can handle any opponent. “We have beaten them all and I do not see any big threat from any team. The real threat will be when the team feels the pressure and gets sidelined because of that.”
Ashan has made the impossible possible and would want his players to make a “fresh start” in the playoffs.
- ⦿Scores, commentary and play-by-play action from the Pro Kabaddi League
- ⦿Watch the highlights of your favourite games from the ninth edition of PKL
- ⦿Catch our weekly YouTube live stream where we discuss the biggest talking points
- ⦿Check out who finished the league stage with most raid points
- ⦿Check out who finished the league stage with most tackle points
- ⦿Full squads of the teams which have qualified for the PKL playoffs
- ⦿Here’s how the points table looks at the end of the league stage in PKL season 9
PKL 9: Playoffs preview. Who will make it to the final?- We’ve discussed it all in our weekly Pro Kabaddi League live stream. Check out the full stream below: