If called, I am ready for India duties: Tamil Thalaivas Coach Ashan Kumar
Tamil Thalaivas have turned around the season 9 of PKL after appointment of coach Ashan Kumar and they remain in the playoffs contention.
Pro Kabaddi League team Tamil Thalaivas are currently sitting in the 8th position in the league table and are very much in contention for the playoffs.
It was not an easy start for the Thalaivas as they lost both their captain and head coach in the space of two weeks at the start of the season.
The new coach Ashan Kumar was handed over a team devoid of confidence and he has turned around their fortunes in some style.
The Bridge sat down with Ashan Kumar to understand the factors behind the resurgence of Tamil Thalaivas in PKL Season 9.
With low morale and without their star player, Tamil Thalaivas were out of confidence but youngster Narender Kandola stepped up at the right moment.
"It is evident that Narender has done well in Pawan's absence. He is a young guy and we keep him away from unnecessary pressure. We work with him on his mistakes and keep him away from negativity. It is his debut season and the nervousness is going away slowly. He will do better in the coming future," Ashan Kumar heaped praises on his young star.
Ashan Kumar had a tough job on his hands and one of his first ideas was to focus on team psychology.
Explaining his first task, the coach said, "The team was balanced. I was observing the team before taking over. When I came, I pointed out their mistakes and worked on them. The morale of the team was shaken with both coach and captain going, it was my job to boost them psychologically. I just did my job and now they are showing what they can do."
In absence of their star man, the bench of Thalaivas has stood up to the occasion. One of them is Ajinkya Pawar who single-handedly defeated Telugu Titans with a miraculous 6-point raid.
"Earlier Ajinkya was on the bench but he is back on the mat and he is doing well. He is a live wire raider and his speed unsettles the opponents. He is doing brilliantly as our second raider as he has the experience and we try our best to instil confidence in them," said Ashan Kumar.
Kabaddi as a game has evolved with time and like cricket, it has great value for all-rounders.
Talking about the importance of the all-round game, Ashan said, "I am very particular about focusing on all-round skills. I always make my raiders practice defensive moves to tackle situations in case two or three players are present on the mat. If all of your players are able to do both skills, it only helps the team in tough situations."
With Asian Games 2023 closing in, the Indian team is yet to announce the camp. A lot of rumours about Ashan Kumar being announced as the coach for the Indian team have been floating around as he has been a globe-trotting coach after retiring from the game and has coached and set up strong systems in South Korea (won silver in Jakarta Asian Games) and Iran (current Asian Champions).
Rejecting the claims, Ashan Kumar said, "I am ready for the responsibility of the Indian team if called upon for Asian Games 2023 but right now I am focused on the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League and my motive is to take this team to the playoffs."