An in-depth look at Fazel Atrachali’s block and thigh hold and what makes it so devastating.
Fazel Atrachali recently became the first overseas player to score 200 tackle points in VIVO Pro Kabaddi. While his points tally is impressive enough on its own, his tackle strike rate of 65.76 is almost 10 better than the next best among players with 200 tackle points.
So, what is it about Atrachali’s tackles that spells doom for raiders? We break down the most impressive aspects of his tackling technique.
For his built, Atrachali is quite possibly the most powerful pound-for-pound defender in the league. A brilliant example of his strength is this tackle on Gujarat Fortunegiants’ Mahendra Rajput. In this situation, the raider is simply trying to spend time before attempting to cross the baulk line to make the raid legal. There's no room for error for Atrachali as the move requires a cautious approach to ensure the attempted tackle does not convert into raid points for the opposition. But Atrachali backs himself up to execute the tackle to perfection.
The trick here is him getting down low and getting his hands firmly around the raider’s torso and lifting him off the ground to take his lower body away, leaving the raider with no limbs to power through Atrachali. Even before help arrived from his teammates, the raider knew he wasn’t making it back to the midline. It’s not just mindless strength. There’s a specific technique that allow Atrachali to execute the double thigh hold/block to such devastating effect.
He plants both his feet firmly on the mat to make sure his balance stays perfect. Then he lowers his head and gets his arms around Rajput’s midriff, before using his core strength to get Rajput off the ground. Once he has the grip and the raider off the ground, he drops on his back towards his own half of the mat, pulling the raider’s body inwards, further away from the midline.
This is crucial in Rajput’s case because hardly two minutes prior, the raider’s humungous wingspan cost U Mumba seven points. Atrachali had less than half a second to calculate, position himself and execute this mammoth tackle on an equally mammoth human being.
Here’s another example of a similar tackle, this time on Telugu Titans’ Armaan.
Lighter and shorter than Rajput, making his quicker on his feet with lower centre of gravity than the Gujarat Fortunegiants’ raider. The technique and the execution, just as emphatic. Feet planted, lowers the head, both hands wrapped around his left leg, off the ground, successful tackle. Poetry in motion.
Make no mistake, while Atrachali may be unsighted his pre-empting the raider’s move allows him to plan his attack. His grip is solid, ensuring that the raider is either thrown off balance or his momentum towards the mid-line checked.
For Armaan, the end came when he was toppled over by Atrachali, the U Mumba defender safe with the knowledge that he is being covered by fellow-defender Surender Singh.
Here’s another one and this time on one of the league’s elite raiders, Monu Goyat.
In this scenario, he displays his situational awareness. He realises Monu is moving inwards and hence uses his blindside to position himself between the raider and the midline. The technique is like clockwork. Feet planted, head down, both hands wrapped around his right quad and hamstring this time, lifts his off the mat and tackles him to the ground.
Explosive speed, timing, strength and technique. All of these in a fraction of seconds on an unsuspecting raider. That momentary lapse in concentration, where the raider loses sight of where the Iranian is, or takes in a wrong step to venture too deep into U Mumba’s half, or maybe just runs right into the brick wall, that is Fazel Atrachali.