Tuesday at Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium witnessed two completely one-sided encounters with the favourites cruising home with wins. The southern derby was expected to be a close-fought affair but Telugu Titans crushed Tamil Thalaivas’ advances to score the highest number of points this season and win 58-37. The match saw Rahul Chaudhari, Mohsen Maghsoudlou and Nilesh Salunke picking up a Super 10 each. And earlier in the evening in another one-sided encounter, Gujarat Fortunegiants had rolled over Dabang Delhi K.C.  

After a disappointing season, the Titans have recently turned on their A game, winning three games on the trot under new captain Rohit Rana. However, Rana begged to differ when asked if the change of guard has brought in the recent results. “No, there is nothing like that. The players were injured. As a captain, I sit and speak to the players and tell them to perform freely. I don’t have to control the team at all times because if I do so they will come under pressure and give away points,” he said.

Rana was all praise for the youngsters in his team. On Maghsoudlou’s fantastic performance, he said: “He is a young player with good speed. He listens to us on when to get points or when to come back with an empty raid and performs for the team,” Rana said before moving his attention to Vishal Bhardwaj, “I know him since childhood. We discuss the opposition’s weaknesses and capitalise on them. Like today, we discussed that if we keep Ajay Thakur under control then we will easily win. I have asked him to go for tackles and the entire team will support him.”

Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh, meanwhile, looked quite satisfied after the thumping 42-22 win against Delhi. “I am very happy as the team has played very well. It’s always said that we have a strong defence but today our raiders proved that they are also on a par.”

Despite a Super Playoff berth looking imminent for Gujarat, Manpreet feels they need to win all of their remaining matches to ensure they finish as the Zone A leaders. “We have four matches left and we have to win them all. We have two matches against Pune and if we win those matches then the scores will be tied and the winning percentage will come into play. Whoever wins will go forward. Pune is the only team that can bring us down on the table,” he said.