The opening day of VIVO Pro Kabaddi saw two contrasting matches. In Zone B, Rahul Chaudhari's Telugu Titans scored heavily in their raids to take out a young Tamil Thalaivas outfit, whereas in Zone A, Puneri Paltan excelled in defence and the experienced U Mumba raiders found it difficult to make inroads.
It was only the second win in nine matches for the Paltan against their Maharashtra neighbours, and captain Deepak Hooda was naturally pleased as punch. “We played as one unit, like a family,” he told the media after a convincing 33-21 win. "Our strategy was to involve even our raiders in defence which worked to our advantage. Going forward, I’m sure we will prove to be the strongest defensive unit this season," he added.
Puneri Paltan coach BC Ramesh shed some more light on the team’s strategy. "Our strategy was to take out their top four raiders - Kashiling Adake, Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bappu and Nitin Madane - whenever they come for raids. Our all-rounders came through for us when it mattered. I also had full faith in Deepak’s leadership and he proved excellent," he said.
U Mumba captain Anup Kumar, meanwhile, sounded a tad disappointed but insisted it wasn’t the end of the road for them. "We will be under a bit of pressure after this result but we will continue to give our best," he said, "We have a good team but just couldn’t perform today as the defence played aggressively and tried some advanced tackles too early."
In the earlier match of Day 1, home team Telugu Titans cruised to a comfortable 32-27 win against debutants Tamil Thalaivas."It was very important for our confidence (that we) win our first match at home," said Titans captain Rahul Chaudhari after the match. “We have earlier lost games despite having big leads early on. This time, Rakesh Kumar took responsibility when I wasn’t on the field and proved his experience. We managed to maintain consistent pressure on our opponent."
Tamil Thalaivas coach K Baskaran, meanwhile, was not too disappointed by the result. "Even though we lost, this was a good learning experience for the youngsters. I'm sure they will bounce back stronger from here." Captain Ajay Thakur agreed with his coach. "The youngsters played well for their age. Going forward, we will rectify the errors we made in offense and defence," he promised.
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