With the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League less than a week away, this indianexpress.com series takes a look at how the revamped squads shape up and how the changes could affect their fortunes this year. In focus today are Telugu Titans – the entertainers of the league.
There are some sporting sides that turn up on the night and get the job done, and then there are others that turn up, put on a show and never cease to entertain. Hyderabad’s Telugu Titans fall firmly in the latter and are quite easily the most exciting side in Pro Kabaddi. The youngest side in Season 2 found their rhythm fairly early but what was astonishing was that they saved their best for the home crowd at the Gachibowli Indoor, averaging a colossal 42 points per game at a time where the defensive units were calling the shots. It was also where Meraj Sheykh was unleashed, with athleticism, sheer pace and agility on the mat that hadn’t been witnessed before. The team possessed a 5 star attack with the poster boy of Pro Kabaddi, Rahul Chaudari leading the pack alongside Deepak Hudda, Sukesh Hegde, Prashant Rai and the magical Meraj. In addition, the found an unlikely hero in the 18 year old Baby-Faced-Assassin, Sandeep Khandola, who made the left corner his very own.
Six months on and things have certainly changed. The 5 star attack has now lost an important cog with Deepak Nivas Hudda leaving for the Puneri Paltan. The loss of Deepak isn’t just a hit on their raiding powers but will impact the defensive unit as well with the most expensive signing, Hadi Oshtorak heading to Patna, Rajguru off to Delhi and young Sandeep Khandola being released as well. The void seems substantial but the double signing of the experienced Dharmaraj Cheralathan (who’s brother Gopu is already with the Titans) and Pakistan’s Waseem Sajjad could do some serious damage to the opposition.
A lot of their success in Season 3 will depend on how quickly they have adapted to new players but also to the new coach at the helm as they look to make the most of the home court advantage. The Titans’ owners are extremely passionate and it’s bound to be a 4-day carnival with plenty of flair on court as well to kick things off.
# Dharmraj Cheralathan from Bengalurur Bulls
# Waseem Sajjad from Patna Pirates
# Kalimuthu Balamahendran from Puneri Paltan
# Manoj Kumar from Puneri Paltan
# Deepak Hooda to Puneri Paltan
# Rajguru Subramaniam to Dabang Delhi
# Hadi Oshtorak to Patna Pirates
Have added experience to their defence with Cheralathan, Waseem Sajjad & Kalimuthu
Rahul Chaudhari, Sukesh, Meraj & Prashant Rai form a 4 pronged attack
A new coach, which was a big area of concern last year especially with player management
Loss of Deepak Nivas Hudda in particular but also Hadi Oshtorak & Sandeep Khandola will be felt
No real Captain who can control the side as we saw last season
Starting the league at home which is a great chance to set the tone early & move clear of competition
Brothers, Gopu & Cheralathan on either corner is great understanding
Without Deepak, Meraj will play a greater role which could be a delight to watch