One of the reasons behind Gujarat Fortunegiants’ scintillating run to the playoffs of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 has been their ever-reliable defence. Regarded as one of the best defences – if not the best – in the league, it was of little surprise that they topped Zone A having been at the receiving end of the fewest losses in the league stage. Their defensive leader Fazel Atrachali, who lifted the trophy with Patna Pirates last year, spoke exclusively to recently and told us what sets apart their defenders from the rest. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about your team’s journey so far.

I am happy with the performance because we got good momentum by winning five matches in the home leg. The players are performing well and the management is also taking good care of us. I like to play with a free mind whenever possible and that is happening.

Any particular young player who has performed well according to you...

I think Sachin has performed well for the team.

Could you elaborate on Sachin’s performances this season?

One good thing about Sachin is that he does not care about anything. He plays freely and does not put himself under any pressure. He takes a lot of risks in the match because he goes too deep in the opposition defence to take points. That’s his strength according to me.

Are you satisfied with the defence?

The defenders are performing well because they tackle the players at the right time, which is important.

Tell us about your own performances this season.

I have to play smart and think about my team because if I go out, then the left side of the defence will become weak. In the previous seasons I didn’t have to think about handling the defence but now as a senior player I have to take care of the defence. So it is important for me to stay on the mat for as long as possible.

What are your thoughts on your combination with Abozar Mighani?

I think we complement each other very well. Planning becomes a lot easier for us because we know each other’s game very well. So he knows when I will tackle and I know when he will tackle. We cannot keep talking all the time so we should learn how to understand and play together without always verbally communicating.