Pro Kabaddi 2019: Siddharth Desai looks to replace Rahul Chaudhari as revamped Telugu Titans look to scale new heights
Telugu Titans bid farewell to star raider Rahul Chaudhari after six years of association. He was one of two players in PKL history to have played the first six seasons with the same team (Jang Kun Lee the other with Bengal Warriors). The Titans failed to make it into the final of Pro Kabaddi League, despite reaching the playoffs twice in season 2 and season 4. Last year, the side finished in the 5th spot in Zone B. The decision to let of Rahul put the franchise in a position to buy a massive replacement for him. As his replacement, Telugu Titans have bought one of the stars of PKL 6, Siddharth Desai, spending a massive 145 lakhs (highest bid for PKL 6 auction) to get him.
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Desai took the league by storm last season which was his debut PKL season. He finished PKL 6 as the 3 rd leading raid point scorer with 218 raid points. He also won the Emerging Player of the Year award. He was one of only 3 raiders to have a raid point average > 10 in PKL 6 (10.4). In his 21 games, he also picked up 12 Super 10s, getting one in more than 50% of his games.
The Titans got back both their ace corner defenders – Vishal Bhardwaj and Abozar Mighani – spending big money. The team used the FBM card to get both of them, spending 75 Lakhs on Abozar and 60 Lakhs on Vishal Bhardwaj. Left cover Anil Kumar was let go and C. Arun has been bought as a replacement for 10 Lakhs. Along with Rahul Chaudhari, Nilesh Salunkhe, who was their 2 nd raider for almost 3 seasons has also been let go.
While the team has two outstanding corners, the cover positions have some question marks. Farhad Milaghardan has been retained by the team and he is likely to take up the right cover position. Farhad has been a dependable defender in the past. But in the left cover position it is mostly going to be C Arun. Last year Titans had Anil Kumar in the left cover position who had a good start to the tournament, but later became unreliable.
Coach Gholamreza will have to once more work some magic to get a similar combination like Surender-Rohit Rana at U Mumba because at the outset this looks like a weak area for the team.
Squad: Armaan, Farhad Rahimi Milaghardan, Krushna Madane, Manish, Akash Choudhary, Siddharth Desai, Abozar Mighani, Vishal, Duet Jennings, Amit Kumar C Arun, Suraj Desai, Suraj Kumar, Sombir, Mula Siva Ganesh Reddy, Rakesh Gowda
Coach: The introduction of Gholamreza Mazandarani (coach of U Mumba in PKL 6) as the new head coach of Telugu Titans for PKL 7 is expected to have a huge impact. One of the things he transformed with U Mumba last season was the defence of the team, making it one of the best in the league.