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Pro Kabaddi: With Edachery Bhaskaran in the Ranks, Tamil Thalaivas Look to Make a Lasting Impression

Edachery Bhaskaran, who is known for having built one of the best teams to have featured in the competition in U Mumba has joined the Tamil Thalaivas' setup this season to help improve the squad.

News18 Sports

Updated:October 6, 2018, 4:17 PM IST
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Pro Kabaddi: With Edachery Bhaskaran in the Ranks, Tamil Thalaivas Look to Make a Lasting Impression
Image: @tamilthalaivas/Twitter
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The Tamil Thalaivas don’t have too much to boast of as yet in their existence as a PKL franchise, as their debut campaign saw youthful exuberance to start with before tapering out. Skipper Ajay Thakur was bereft of ideas as he sat on the bench and saw his young side falter under pressure time and again. The team needed to go back to the drawing board and the player franchise could not have come at a better time for them.

Edachery Bhaskaran, who is known for having built one of the best teams to have featured in the competition, joined the set up and as expected, quickly identified the remedy.

"Last year, the Tamil Thalaivas performed well considering their capacity. Their problem was they didn't have enough experienced figures in the team. When Ajay Thakur was on the bench, the youngsters couldn't cope with the pressure and the team collapsed," Bhaskaran told Firstpost.

The Thalaivas had talented youngsters who did well in their debut season, but a lack of experience meant they could not hold their nerve. They lost 11 matches with a margin of less than 7 points in 2017, and the need for seasoned heads was paramount.

The Chennai franchise retained three of their most experienced players in captain Thakur and defenders Amit Hooda and C Arun as they aimed to strike the right balance with youth. At the player auction, with Bhaskaran on their side, the franchise made some shrewd purchases in the auctions.

All-rounder Manjeet Chhillar, who is the most successful defender in PKL in terms of tackle points scored, was purchased for the base price of Rs 20 lakh, while veteran raider Jasvir Singh was acquired for just Rs 12 lakh.

"Manjeet and Jasvir are very big players. They have given their all for their franchises in the past. Jaipur's team was built around Jasvir for over four years and Manjeet was the best all-rounder in the league during the early seasons. They have recovered from their injuries and are completely fit. Their presence on the court will be very vital if Ajay is out of the mat," Bhaskaran said.

Sukesh Hegde and Surjeet Singh were also brought in to add much needed depth to the raiding department and along with the likes of young raiders Jayaseelan, Anil Kumar and Anand, the Chennai franchise can boast of a very potent attack.

Defensively, Hooda and Arun are easy picks, while a fit Manjeet will make them formidable. D Gopu and Sunil will battle it out for the left corner position, and that could be the only weakness in the team.

Captain Thakur, who's a raider, believes it will be the team's defence that will be its greatest strength. "The defence is our strength. We have good raiders too, but we have strong players in all position. We have vastly improved in that area," Thakur told Firstpost.

The Thalaivas have also made an effort to sign local talent as they conducted their own talent hunt and acquired a few young players.

"Being a team from the south, it's our responsibility to promote local talent. We conducted our own talent hunt and signed players from it. Jayaseelan is one of the raiders we signed and he is extremely talented. I believe he will be one of the stars this season," the Tamil Thalaivas coach said.

Some of the other players on whom there are high expectations are Athul MS, P Subramanian, D Pratap and Darshan J. "Pratap and Darshan were with us last year. They have immense potential. They have improved a lot after last year's experience and I feel they are ready to shine for us," captain Thakur said.

The team went through two different training camps in preparation for the season. The fitness camp was for 20 days, while the final touches are being added in a camp that is more than a month long and the skipper is particularly happy with the team’s fitness levels.

"All players are fit. Those who had injuries have recovered very well. We are ready to start the season. I have spoken to Jasvir and Manjeet, they are eager to prove that they still are the big players and I believe in them," Thakur said.

Under Bhaskaran’s tutelage, the Thalaivas will hope to become a powerhouse and possibly emulate U Mumba, all this with an ideal balance of experience and youth led by a highly influential leader. His early endeavours indicate he is attempting to replicate a similar winning blueprint at Tamil Thalaivas. The Chennai outfit has four former captains in their ranks along with youngsters who have great potential to become regulars in the side.

"At U Mumba, we managed to strike a good balance in the team. We had seniors like Anup, Rakesh and Jeeva Kumar and then promising youngsters like Rishank (Devadiga), Mohit (Chhillar). This team is very similar," Bhaskaran suggested.

Bhaskaran drew similarities between the leadership styles of Anup and his present skipper Ajay, calling them "team's captain".

"Anup and Ajay are very similar. They both like to bring the team together. They are like elder brothers to the players and that creates an excellent atmosphere. The recent Asian Games results may not favour Ajay so much, but the result was not his fault. He is a great leader," Bhaskaran added.

This season Tamil Thalaivas are hoping to make a fresh start with Bhaskaran and after a torrid season last year, they are preparing for one big raid.
| Edited by: Suyash Upadhyaya
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