Tamil Thalaivas: Seeking redemption

In its first PKL season last year, Tamil Thalaivas finished last in Zone B qualifying. For captain Ajay Thakur, league success will also be some consolation for India’s loss at the Asian Games under his command.

Ajay Thakur had his best season till date in 2017, averaging more than 9.5 raid points per game.   -  The Hindu

After a dismal start to life in the Pro Kabaddi League last year — a last-place finish in Zone B qualifying — Tamil Thalaivas will be seeking for a turnaround.

Kasinatha Baskaran — under whom the team couldn’t muster any momentum, losing 14 of its 22 ties including all six at home — has made way for another title-winning coach, Edachery Bhaskaran, with the former assuming the role of technical director of the franchise.

Thaliavas will be keen to capitalise on its home advantage when the first leg of the new season begins in Chennai. The team underwent a near month-long conditioning camp in the city in August with the gruelling season in mind.

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At the auction, the franchise dug deep to ease the burden on its raider and captain Ajay Thakur by bidding as much as ₹1.29 crore for Rahul Chaudhari, but was thwarted by Telugu Titans, which managed to retain him with a Final Bid Match card. New signings Sukesh Hegde, Jasvir Singh and Surjeet Singh will now form the key to Thalaivas’ attack.

Amit Hooda, the 22-year-old star defender, had the responsibility of marshalling a young side that wilted away in the second half of last season. With the experienced all-rounder Manjeet Chillar, who went for his base price, and Sunil added to the fold, Thalaivas will be aiming for its first-ever play-offs berth.

“We had a plan going into the auction. And I believe we’ve put up a balanced team that I’m sure will cover last season’s weaknesses," said coach Bhaskaran.

Player to watch — Ajay Thakur

The 32-year-old had his best season till date in 2017, averaging more than 9.5 raid points per game. Thakur was scintillating during the Thalaivas’ home leg matches, in which he amassed 74 points in six outings – 41 per cent of the team’s total points.