Tamil Thalaivas aims to start on front foot in home leg

Having finished bottom of Zone B in its first season in the Pro Kabaddi League, Tamil Thalaivas will keen to thrive on the home leg of its second season in the league.

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

Playing the first leg of the tournament at home, Tamil Thalaivas will be looking to start on the right foot and rectify last season’s mistakes. The Chennai-based team lost all its matches at home last season.

The Thalaivas’ debut season was marred with inexperience. But with the likes of Manjeet Chillar, Jasvir Singh and Sukesh Hegde this time around, the Tamil Thalaivas’ fortune could change.

“Last season, our team was young and inexperienced and naturally some of our decision-making on the mat was poor. But this year we have that much needed experience in the side,” said skipper Ajay Thakur, who was spectacular in season 5 despite a poor season for his team, finishing with the third-highest raid points in the league.

Read: Thalaivas eyes redemption in second season in PKL

It’ll be interesting to watch Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar in action together again. The duo played the first two seasons together at Bengaluru Bulls and the next two at Puneri Paltan and managed to reach the playoffs in each season.

Yet, the Tamil Thalaivas will be intimidated by the stature of its opponent that boasts of the best player in the league, the most balanced side on paper and three successive PKL titles.

The Pirates comes to Chennai with eyes set on a perfect start. The team will aim to not be reliant on Pardeep Narwal, who comes on the back of a record-breaking season, piling 369 points.

Puneri Paltan vs U Mumba

Puneri Paltan faces U Mumba in the other match on opening day.

Puneri Paltan had the best defensive record in the league last season, finishing the season with the highest tackle point average (11.3). As captain Girish Ernauk, Sandeep Narwal and Ravi Kumar hold fort at the back, Nitin Tomar who scored 169 raid points last season, will be the main attacking outlet.

But U Mumba, without Anup Kumar in the side for the first time, doesn’t look like the ideal team to test the Paltan’s defence. Iranian Fazel Athrachali and Dharmaraj Cherlathan are top-class options in defense, but not one raider in the side scored more than 100 raid points in PKL 5. Aboulfazl Maghsoudlu, who finished with 91 points, is the best among the lot and likely to be again.

Puneri Paltan finished second in Zone A last season and U Mumba fourth. It faced each other on the opening day of season 5 as well and Paltan won 33-21. In fact, U Mumba was unable to win any of the three matches against Puneri Paltan last season, losing the other two 24-26 and 24-43.

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