Rahul Chaudhari has been one of the names synonymous with the sport of kabaddi over the past few years. The fleet-footed raider from the state of Uttar Pradesh became known for his running hand touches and ability to raid from both sides of the mat soon after his VIVO Pro Kabaddi debut in Season 1. He picked up 161 points from 14 games that season and was second only to U Mumba’s Captain Cool Anup Kumar, who had years of experience over the young raider.
The next season saw the raider go from strength to strength and finish as the second most successful raider once again behind Dabang Delhi K.C.’s Kashiling Adake. His ability to outsmart the opposition defence and do well in pressure situations won him a lot of praise but he still wasn’t able to earn the title of the most successful raider of the season. All that changed in Season 4, where he looked in the form of his life, scoring 146 points from 16 games, 15 points clear of MVP Pardeep Narwal. That season also saw him become the first raider to cross 400 raid points in the league. Since he started off his career as a defender, his ability to back up defence and stop opposition raiders in their tracks helped his team’s cause as well. It was during this period that he also brought the nation glory by leading the Indian team to an Asian Beach Games gold in 2014 and then followed it up by taking his state side of Uttar Pradesh to their first ever National Kabaddi Championship gold in 2015. The world had started to take notice of the raider and he was given the title of ‘Raid Machine’.
However, in spite of all his exploits in the league, the VIVO Pro Kabaddi title has always been elusive for Chaudhari. He has been a lone warrior for Telugu Titans on many occasions and failed to garner the necessary support to take his team through to the title. Season 5 saw him having a disappointing start as he was forced to watch the match from the bench for long periods of time with the Titans’ defenders unable to revive him enough.
“I generally don’t take any pressure when it comes to raiding, but now I have to because my team is not performing well,” he told ProKabaddi.com during the season, his disappointment evident. “I really don’t know what the problem is because even though individual players are performing, we are still losing matches.”
He gave up the team’s captaincy to Rohit Rana towards the end of the season which saw an upswing in his fortunes. He turned a forgettable season around and still managed to finish among the top five scorers of the season. He got a lot of criticism throughout for his performance, though, and looked off colour even in the recently concluded Senior National Kabaddi Championship where his team failed to make even the semi-finals. It now remains to be seen what the future holds for this once promising youngster from Bijnor who, in his short career, managed to carve a niche for himself among the greats of the game and be known as the poster boy of kabaddi.