Tamil Thalaivas ready to take off on home turf

The Thalaivas has had a mixed early season run. It is placed sixth in the 12-team league with 20 points after six games. The side has won three matches, lost two and tied one.

Tamil Thalaivas raider Shabeer Bappu (l), coach E.Bhaskaran (c) and Rahul Chaudhari address the press ahead of the Pro Kabaddi League Chennai leg start.   -  PKL

Tamil Thalaivas is home, eyeing an ascent up the leaderboard of Pro Kabaddi League season seven. The home team takes on Bengaluru Bulls at 7.30pm at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday to kick off the Chennai leg of PKL 7.

“We are walking into the home leg with a positive outlook with the sole motive to perform well,” Bhaskaran said at a press conference on Friday.

The Thalaivas has had a mixed early season run. It is placed sixth in the 12-team league with 20 points after six games. The side has won three matches, lost two and tied one.

Rahul Chaudhari has shown glimpses of his attacking prowess and skipper Ajay Thakur is showing signs of getting into rhythm. What Thalaivas will be keen on is both heavyweights firing in tandem.    

Bhaskaran is hopeful it is going to happen. “We have made mistakes and learning from them the team is working to make sure we have a great season,” he said. “The team is practicing well, and we are working on a balanced team to complete the home leg on a high note.”

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Chaudhari, popular among fans as the 'Showman', got an unusual first question as he fiddled with a pencil while holding a playful smile. "What is the secret of your smiling raids this season?" The smile grew bigger and the Thalaivas top-scorer (47 points) replied, “In the last two years, I was the only main raider, so there was a lot of pressure. This year, I have the likes of Shabeer (Bappu) and Ajay shouldering the responsibility with me. Hence, I am enjoying my game now.”

He acknowledged the home crowd’s expectations and said he hoped to build on his form. Thalaivas made a winning start to the season with a 39-26 victory over Telugu Titans and Chaudhari starred with 12 points. The team, however, lost the next two matches by 1-point margins to Dabang Delhi (29-30) and Patna Pirates (23-24) before beating Haryana Steelers 35-28, with Chaudhari scoring 14 points. 

Thalaivas tied its fifth match, against UP Yoddha. Thakur saved the day as Thalaivas trailed 27-28 with less than 20 seconds on the clock. The captain got a touch point off Nitesh Kumar to tie the game. Before heading for the home leg, Thalaivas defeated Gujarat Fortunegiants 34-28.

The team's senior raider, Shabeer, will be eager to get his season going after a tame start. He has 13 points in six appearances this season. "We are excited to play before our home crowd and hope to produce good results," he said.

Manjeet Chhillar and Mohit Chhillar have been the pillars of the Thalaivas defence, with support from Ran Singh and youngster Ajeet. Manjeet is second in the list of most tackle points and super-tackles.

TAMIL THALAIVAS HOME LEG SCHEDULE:

August 17 - Bengaluru Bulls (7.30 pm)

August 18 - Puneri Paltan (7.30 pm)

August 21 - Jaipur Pink Panthers (8.30 pm)

August 23 - U Mumba (8.30 pm)