PUNE: The unthinkable happened! A change of venue and a new coach tirelessly barking out instructions breathed new life into a flagging campaign for Tamil Thalaivas as it romped to a confidence-boosting 38-27 win over Jaipur Pink Panthers on the opening day of the Pune leg of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 9 on Friday.
Just when all seemed lost with hope and luck deserting Thalaivas with each passing match, this timely win will go a long way towards putting a spring in their step and a shot in their arm. It has to be acknowledged that not many even in the Thalaivas camp would have foreseen such a drastic turnaround in fortunes especially after what had transpired in Bengaluru that pushed the team to 11th in the standings with just a sole victory to show for its exertions.
And when its star attraction Pawan Kumar Sehrawat was sidelined with an injury in his maiden outing, it looked like the toddler of a season would unravel even before it took baby steps. The Thalaivas fans would readily testify that in their team’s case when it rains it usually results in a deluge of problems and so it proved when coach J Udaya Kumar received the pink slip subsequently.
This was not how the season was supposed to unfold for the success-starved Thalaivas outfit, at least in the eyes of its expectant supporters. Barely a couple of months ago, on August 5 to be precise, for that was when the glitzy player auction was held in Mumbai, the team from Chennai was riding on a crest of a wave and everything seemed hunky-dory after it acquired Pawan for a whopping Rs. 2.26 crore.
He was regarded as the messiah, the panacea for all the ills that plagued the team in the preceding four seasons. Maybe in hindsight you could blame the team’s ‘inner circle’ for placing all its eggs in the basket called Pawan. Deprived of the presence of such a colossal player, the team lurched from one defeat, nay crisis to another with no sign of remedy for its seemingly intractable woes until Friday.
The new coach Ashan Kumar has his task cut out and with time at a premium, his acuity in devising a winning strategy has to be spot-on right from his reign’s outset. One victory, no matter how heart-warming it is, won’t define a season and the jury is still out on his credentials, but if the match against Jaipur is any indication, the Thalaivas faithful have much to rejoice at.
The defenders and the raiders worked in cohesion, the lack of which caused its travails in the earlier matches. The significance of this victory can’t be overstated and it’s imperative that Thalaivas build on this impressive showing to make its way up the pecking order.
And the fact that it came about without Pawan should dispel any lingering concerns that it is a one-man team.