Tamil Thalaivas were the dark horses in Season 9. They were among the slow starters in the recent edition of vivo Pro Kabaddi and one of the reasons for the same was the injury blow to their star raider Pawan Sehrawat in the first match of the season. The Thalaivas were fantastic on the mat and finished the season as the semifinalists. Their youngsters lived up to the expectations of the team management and got the job done for their side. Sagar and Ajinkya Pawar did a splendid job in the leadership role while Ashan Kumar as a coach managed to revive the team after the early collapse and got the best out of the players.
The Thalaivas didn’t perform well in the first leg and managed to add points to their tally with a win and a draw in Bengaluru. Ashan Kumar who was roped in as the coach before the second leg changed the fortunes of the side and got them back on track. He motivated the players and built their confidence. This resulted in Tamil Thalaivas’ five-match unbeaten streak in the Pune leg. They ended their league stage on a high with five wins and a draw in Hyderabad. They created history by making it to the Playoffs for the first time in vivo Pro Kabaddi history and held their nerve to get past the finish line in Eliminator 2. They were close to going a step further and making it to the final before they lost against Puneri Paltan by a slender margin of two-point in the semi-final.
Narender was the standout performer for the Thalaivas on the raiding front. The debutant showed great maturity as he scored 243 raid points. The youngster created history by scoring the most raid points by a Tamil Thalaivas raider in a vivo Pro Kabaddi season. He was supported well by Ajinkya Pawar who added 130 raid points to his account. Pawar managed the dual responsibilities of captaincy and raiding effectively in the second half of the tournament. Himanshu Singh was third in the leading raiders’ list for the Thalaivas with 45 raid points whereas the left corner Himanshu earned 32 raid points apart from 28 tackle points in the defence.
In the defence, Sahil Gulia showed his sublime form and turned out to be the best defender for the Thalaivas with 57 tackle points. He took charge in the defence in Sagar’s absence and proved his mettle. Sagar wasn’t too far behind and amassed 53 tackle points by leading the team from the front in 17 matches that he played before missing out on the remaining matches due to injury. The cover duo of M. Abishek and Mohit also chipped in with 40 and 32 tackle points respectively.
The 9th edition of the vivo Pro Kabaddi was well and truly the best season for Tamil Thalaivas. They recovered well after a few early blows and came up with a significant performance against all odds to make it a remarkable season.