Telugu Titans haven’t had the best of starts to VIVO Pro Kabaddi and now will   have to do exceptionally well if they hope to make the qualifiers this season. After a woeful run at home that saw them win just one of their six matches in Hyderabad followed by more defeats on the road, it has become imperative for them to string together a run of positive results.

Rohit Rana, who has been a regular starter for the Titans this year, spoke to in an exclusive interview recently and put into perspective his team’s performance so far. “We have a lot of matches to play now. So, we are trying to recover as soon as possible. The team played back-to-back matches [at home] so because of that the team was tired and also more susceptible to injuries. We are trying to balance our defence because the defence has been weak, and in latter stage of the league we will have tough matches coming our way,” Rana said.

Commenting on why the Titans have found it tough going in defence, Rana said: “It’s a long league and the practice camp was also very long, so injuries happened there. Our cover and corners had injuries. Rakesh [Kumar] had to play in the corner but he is an all-rounder so he doesn’t have that experience in the corner. We also have an Iranian defender playing but there is a difference in the playing techniques of Iran and India, so he is taking time to settle. The left side of our defence is strong, no doubt, but we are still trying some [new] combinations for the left side.”

However, despite a poor start that has seen them register just two wins in 10 matches, Rana is confident that his team can have a strong finish to the league stage. “There is confidence in the team because our right cover has also returned from injury and he is fit to play. So, I think the defence will perform well and the offence too,” he said.

One of the few positives to come out the Titans camp this campaign has been the performances of youngster Vishal Bhardwaj, who has demonstrated maturity beyond his years. When asked for his thoughts on the young defender, Rana added: “He is a young player and he is from Himachal [Pradesh]. We always keep motivating him and he keeps on discussing the problems he has. Plus, sometimes a young player is aggressive and plays with more energy, so we have to control that. Whatever we say he takes it positively and follows it really well.”