It was a walk to remember for ‘Baahubali’ Siddharth Desai back in October, 2018, when he made his way to the middle of the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai donning the U Mumba jersey to make his VIVO Pro Kabaddi debut. When he struts down the tunnel of the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad come Saturday, this time in the yellow of Telugu Titans, it won't be any less emotional for Season 6's Best Debutant winner. Desai will go up against his former team and Fazel Atrachali – a brother-figure for him – in the Season 7 opener.
The 27-year-old’s fondness for U Mumba is hardly a surprise, considering the Season 2 champions gave him the platform to excel. " I want to thank U Mumba for putting their trust in me. I had been waiting for almost five years to get a chance in VIVO Pro Kabaddi and I finally got the opportunity to make my debut with them. I wanted to show my ability and my performances were good last year." he fondly reminisced about the team, for whom he scored 218 raid points last season.
Looking back, Desai picked his bond with 'Sultan' Fazel Atrachali as one of the many fond memories of his time at U Mumba. "Fazel is like my big bro (brother). He told me to reach out for anything, be it personal or professional. He is a special person in my life," the raider explained.
Desai's Iranian connection seems to have continued at Telugu Titans with the star raider getting on well with their Iranian defender Abozar Mohajermighani. "Fazel isn't in my team anymore but I have found Abozar here. I have struck up a great bond with him. He guides me during my raids (in training), points out my mistakes and tells me how to rectify them.”
Having joined Telugu Titans for Season 7, Desai reaffirmed his hunger to succeed and stated, "I am very happy that I have a chance to play for Telugu Titans this season. We will try and win the trophy.
"Telugu Titans may be a new team for me but we have been practising together for two-three months. There are no juniors or seniors in this team. Everyone is nice to others. The team is very balanced, both in offense and defence" he added.
Despite his history with U Mumba, Desai insisted that there will be no quarters given during Saturday’s clash. “I am very excited to play the first match of this season against the team I made my debut with. I have played with them, so I know what they are capable of and they know about me as well. But we have to see during the match, who can dominate whom,” declared the raider. Looking ahead to the season, Desai added, “There's no pressure on me whatsoever. I will try and show my own game and try to better my performance from last season.”