Telugu Titans' Siddharth Desai unconcerned by hefty price tag

Siddharth Desai, who is in his second PKL season, felt that he cannot be compared to former Telugu Titans star raider Rahul Chaudhari as he is focused on bettering his previous season's tally.

Siddharth Desai finished PKL season 6 with 218 raid points third-highest in the list behind Pawan Sehrawat and Pardeep Narwal.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Siddharth Desai, who became the costliest player in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 after being bought by Telugu Titans for Rs. 1.45 crores, is determined to guide the Hyderabad-based franchisee to the title in the coming seasons.

Desai is not concerned by the hefty price tag and is looking forward to the Saturday's tournament opener against former employer U Mumba at Hyderabad's Gachibowli Indoor Stadium.

“I don’t think there will be any pressure on me because of the price tag for me when I was bought by U Mumba was Rs. 36 lakhs and that was no small amount,” says Desai, son of a farmer in Kolhapur (Maharashtra), in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

Desai was a revelation in his debut season as he scored 218 raid points for U Mumba in PKL 2018 and finished third in the top raiders list.

“This is only my second season after four years of long wait before U Mumba gave me the big break last season. I will always remain grateful to them for giving me this huge opportunity,” he says.

READ | Can Siddharth Desai power Telugu Titans to glory?

Titans fell off the playoff race last season after it lost the Inter Zone wild card match to Puneri Paltan with its raiders performing poorly. This time around, Desai feels that the raiding department is stronger with the additions of Rajinish and Rakesh Gowda.

“Frankly, Titans' defence remains more or less the same compared to the previous edition but this time around the raiding department is shored up with the likes of Rajnish, Rakesh (Gowda) expected to raise the bar,” he says.

“The best of Titans’ campaign is that we have a very experienced Iranian coach Gholamreza Mazandarani and also his deputy Jagdish Kumble who know the art of getting the best out of the players and we are confident of winning the title this time around given the kind of long preparations here,” the star raider said.

READ | PKL 2019: All the final squads for the upcoming season

How does it feel to step into the shoes of someone like Rahul Chaudhari who moved over to Tamil Thalaivas?

“My journey in the PKL has just begun. He is too big a player to be compared with me,” says the 27-year-old.

“Definitely, I am fit and excited at playing in front of huge home crowd for Titans which I always felt has had a large fan base across the country given the brand of game it plays,” he says.

After becoming the fastest to reach 50 raid points and the joint-fastest to 100 raid points in the debut season, the towering raider is focused to better his performances.

“The biggest challenge for me should be to improve upon my last edition’s performance. It is going to be tough in a league which features very well balanced outfits. This will be the most open competition in the PKL and there can be no clear favourites,” says Siddarth.