How PKL helped Rahul Chaudhari become the face of Indian Kabaddi
The 27-year-old is only the second player to record more than 1000 points in history of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Indian Kabaddi was not as mainstream as cricket or football before the advent of the Pro Kabaddi League. However, if anyone can be referred to as the face of the Indian kabaddi, it is Rahul Chaudhari. Heading into the first-ever Pro-Kabaddi League, all the hype for the Telugu Titans was on Deepak Hooda. Hooda was bought for a whopping INR 12.6 lakhs, a huge figure for a player who was yet to make his international debut.
However, Rahul made lots of fans for himself in his first-ever Pro Kabaddi League match, when he went toe-to-toe with Indian legend and U Mumba captain Anup Kumar – which ended in a tie. He scored 16 points, 12 of which were scored through raids, to make a resounding statement to the rest of the league.
The Titans suffered two consecutive losses after facing U Mumba. However, Rahul Chaudhari inspired the squad to a 39-35 victory over Dabang Delhi. Out of his 15 points in that game, 11 came off raids.
Chaudhari kept impressing as the season progressed with brilliant performances on both sides of the mat. However, Telugu Titans, after a number of defeats, managed only a fifth-place finish which was not enough for the playoffs qualification.
But the first season had put Rahul on the map. He finished the campaign as the second-best raider behind Anup Kumar. Rahul had accumulated the second most raid points (151), successful tackles (122) and Super 10s (8). Anup Kumar led in each of those three categories, however, Rahul finished with the best average raid points (10.79).
Rahul Chaudhari Took Telugu Titans to two Second-place finishes
Season 2 would be a memorable one for both Rahul and the Titans. He spearheaded a brilliant campaign for his team, finishing second in the table and qualifying for the playoffs. He finished second in raid points and successful raids behind Kashiling Adake of Dabang Delhi but achieved five Super 10s, topping the list eventually.
The semifinal showdown between Telugu Titans and the Bengaluru Bulls went down to the wire. Rahul put up another exemplary performance, notching nine points but the Bulls prevailed 39-38.
The heartbreak in the playoffs transcended into the next season. The Titans failed to finish inside the top four, finishing nine points behind Bengal Warriors in the fourth spot. Chaudhari’s performance did not falter. He registered 99 points as well as four Super 10s.
The Telugu Titans failed to repeat the success from Season 2. But, a determined Rahul Chaudhari would make amends in the fourth season of the Pro Kabaddi League, leading them to another second-place finish and a playoff spot.
Best Raider in Pro Kabaddi League season 4
Rahul Chaudhari earned the Best Raider award as he finished on top of the table with most points (150), Raid points (146), Super 10s (7) and average raid points (9.13). However, the semifinals proved to be a similar story for both Rahul and the Telugu Titans. Despite a solid nine point performance, Rahul Chaudhari could not carry his team over the line. The Titans lost the semi-final 34-24 to Jaipur Pink panthers.
However, Rahul’s performance did not go unnoticed and he was made the captain of the franchise for Season 5. Telugu Titans hoped for bigger things in the campaign, but they finished fifth in Zone B, missing out on the playoffs comprehensively. Chaudhari had accumulated 193 points to finish at the fifth spot of the total points list.
Chaudhari was re-signed by the Titans for 1.29 lakhs for season 6, but the Showman’s performance dipped considerably in what would be his last season for the Titans. His 166 points only put him 11th in the league, as the Titans finished in the same position as Season 5.
Rahul Chaudhari joins Tamil Thalaivas
The Tamil Thalaivas picked Rahul Chaudhari up for 94 lakhs for PKL season 7 but despite Rahul’s 138 raid points, Thalaivas finished last in the table. The position was Rahul’s worst ever in his seven seasons in the Pro Kabaddi League. However, during the course of the season, Chaudhari became only the second-ever PKL player to cross 1000 points behind Pardeep Narwal.
Rahul Chaudhari in India national Kabaddi team
The Indian Kabbadi star has been a huge presence in the national front also, winning the Gold in the 2016 World Cup. He was also part of the Bronze winning squad of the 2018 Asian Games.
The Running Hand Touch, Rahul’s signature move, made him a fan favourite during his time at Telugu Titans. Despite, his impressive PKL career, the lack of a title is a big hole in his resume. Rahul would be looking to put that to rest, when PKL Season 8 starts. A title would be a validation of his efforts over the years. But title or not, the impact Rahul Chaudhari has had in the PKL is undeniable, to say the least.