Telugu Titans have been Pro Kabaddi’s perennial underachievers. Despite talents like Rahul Chaudhari at their disposal, the Hyderabad-based outfit has only made it to the playoffs on two occasions.
In recent years, the Titans have left their star man Rahul Chaudhari with too much to do to carry the team past the league phase. However, last year, Chaudhari’s indifferent form meant, the Titans just fell short of the playoffs despite having a fairly solid overall team.
The Hyderabad side decided to end their six-year association with Rahul Chaudhari ahead of the upcoming campaign, and replaced him with last season’s star raider Siddharth Desai. The Titans splurged Rs 1.45 crore on the Maharashtrian raider, making him the second-most expensive kabaddi player ever.
The Telugu Titans also made a change in the coaching role, appointing Iran national team head coach Gholamreza Mazandarani who replaced coach Jagmohan.
With crowd favourite Rahul Chaudhari moving on, all eyes will be on young turk Siddharth Desai who’ll be expected to take on the mantle.
Past record of Telugu Titans in Pro Kabaddi
|Season 1||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished fifth in the league phase|
|Season 2||Finished second in the league phase, lost to Bengaluru Bulls in the semi-finals|
|Season 3||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished fifth in the league phase|
|Season 4||Finished second in the league phase, lost to Jaipur Pink Panthers in the semi-finals|
|Season 5||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished fifth in Zone B in the league phase|
|Season 6||Did not qualify for playoffs, finished fifth in the league phase|
The Telugu Titans had retained three players, but it did not include any of their top three superstars. All-rounder Farhad Milagardhan and Armaan, and defender Krushna Madane were the only players no released by the franchise ahead of the auctions.
In the auction, the Titans spent more than two-thirds of their purse on Desai (Rs 1.45 crore), Abozar Mighani (Rs 75 lakh) and Vishal Bhardwaj (Rs 60 lakh) with the Hyderabad side using their two FBM cards to regain the services of the latter two.
They had to shift focus on completing the full quota of players in the remaining players and invested in many young all-rounders to add balance to their squad.
The Titans may have one of the best raiders in Siddharth Desai, but their strength undoubtedly is their defence. They have one of the deadliest corner combinations in Abozar and Bhardwaj. The duo excelled last season as a combination with Bhardwaj going to the extent of learning Persian words to communicate better with Abozar.
In the covers, another Iranian Farhad Milaghard is a quality option along with Madane.
In breaking the bank for Siddharth, the Titans have left the raiding department slightly lightweight. Their squad boasts of several young but unproven raiders and the burden of carrying team’s raiding unit may fall entirely on Desai. The Titans though would hope, Siddarth’s elder brother Suraj Desai is able to strike a fine partnership with his sibling to bolster their raiding unit.
Gholamreza Mazandarani was a relatively unknown name in kabaddi until U Mumba appointed him their head coach last season. While many doubted the choice, Mazandarani
banished all reservations about his credentials when he coached Iran to their first-ever gold medal in Asian Games. A master tactician, Gholamreza made U Mumba one of the fittest teams in the league last season. A former Iran international, Gholamreza has devised special fitness regimes specially for kabaddi.
Player to watch out for: Vishal Bhardwaj
The Telugu Titans captain last season, Bhardwaj is one of the most promising left corners in the game. However, injuries have slowed down his progress as a player. Having regained full fitness after missing the business end of last season due to injury, Bhardwaj has the quality to become the league’s top defender. He’s also a capable raider and can come handy in tough situations.
Raiders: Siddharth Desai, Suraj Desai, Amir Kumar, Ankit Beniwal, Kamal Singh, Mula Reddy, Rajnish, Rakesh Gowda.
Defenders: Aakash Arsul, Akash Choudhary, Manish, C Arun, Abozar Mohajermighani (Iran), Krushna Madane, Vishal Bhardwaj
All-rounders: Armaan, Dewitt Jennings (USA), Farhad Milaghardan (Iran)