The inception of the Pro Kabaddi league in 2014 brought a plethora of previously unearthed athletic sensations to the fore, and among them, the player that shone the brightest was the Uttar Pradesh-native Rahul Chaudhari.
A bonafide superstar since his debut in the league, Chaudhari made the kabaddi stage his own, by bringing his swagger and a confident demeanour. It was those qualities, along with his incomparable playing ability, that made him stand out from the rest of the pack and earned him monikers like the ‘Poster Boy of kabaddi’ and more recently, ‘Showman’.
With over 950 raids points through seven seasons of the Pro Kabaddi league for the Telugu Titans and Tamil Thalaivas, Chaudhari has often delivered awe-inspiring performances and below, we take a look at his best so far:
Mauling U Mumba
U Mumba’s team from Season 1 through 3 was quite easily the most stacked roster in Pro Kabaddi history. An offence led by Anup Kumar that also featured Shabeer Bappu and Rishank Devadiga and a heavyweight defence consisting of the Indian kabaddi team’s starting Corner defenders at the time, Surender Nada and Mohit Chhillar with Pro Kabaddi stalwarts Vishal Mane and Jeeva Kumar manning the Cover positions, it usually took a miracle to beat this side. So Chaudhari provided one.
The raider scored 23 raid points in just 22 raid attempts, guiding Telugu Titans to a thrilling 44-43 victory over the eventual runners-up. Chaudhari went on a rampaging run of 18 straight successful raids and was tackled only twice in the contest. That defeat was one of only three that U Mumba suffered in Season 1 and it took a performance for the ages from the Showman to make it happen.
Chaudhari carries Telugu Titans
After finishing third in Season 2, Telugu Titans found themselves in the dreaded 3/4th playoff match yet again in Season 4, this time against Puneri Paltan after they lost their semifinal clash against Jaipur Pink Panthers. While both teams would have been massively disappointed about failing to reach the final, finishing third would still have been a decent consolation for their efforts over the season. And Chaudhari played like he wanted just that.
The Telugu Titans superstar attempted 29 raids and notched up 18 raid points while giving away just two tackle points in the contest. Chaudhari scored all but three of his team’s raid points and the lack of support reflected in the final score, as Telugu Titans succumbed to a 35-40 defeat to finish fourth. Chaudhari, however, would be rewarded for his stellar performances that season, as he picked up his second Best Raider award, adding to the one he won in the inaugural Pro Kabaddi campaign.
Chaudhari and Pardeep Narwal are the only two players in Pro Kabaddi history with over 1000 points. While Chaudhari was the trendsetter for scoring milestones, being the first to reach 200, 300, 400 till 800 points, Pardeep upstaged the Showman by becoming the first player to reach 900 and 1000 points. Pardeep is also the only raider with 1000 raid points while Chaudhari sits in the second spot in 955.
Pardeep has seemingly always had the better of Chaudhari, but in Match 40 of Season 6, Chaudhari rolled into the Patliputra Indoor Stadium, the home of the Patna Pirates, and rolled over Pardeep and his team with a brilliant performance.
In just 23 raid attempts, Chaudhari scored 18 raid points, while succumbing to just three tackle attempts and inspired his side to a 53-32 humbling of the home side. What made the performance and the victory sweeter was that the Telugu Titans defence managed to hold Pardeep to just four raid points, one of his worst performances of the season.
On a mission
A lot did not go right for Telugu Titans in Season 5, but when it did, it was usually down to Chaudhari’s excellence on the mat.
Against Jaipur Pink Panthers in Match 96, Chaudhari was determined to end his team’s three-game winless streak and did just that by scoring 17 raid points in 24 attempts on the night. Chaudhari was responsible for 71 percent of his team’s raid points on the night and was tackled just once, in a stellar display.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @TamilThalaivas