Double defending champions Patna Pirates made it to the playoffs of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 largely due to the side's pervasive raiding abilities. It would have been easy for coach Ram Mehar Singh to openly hit the ceiling whenever the defence stumbled but he has had a good reason not to.
"I don't stay cool but then what are you going to get by showing aggression off the mat?" Ram Mehar Singh asked in an interview to prokabaddi.com recently. "As a coach showing aggression is not good, for the respect of the player and the sport. We have to motivate the players to do well in the match rather than demotivate them. I don't think it's right to say anything to the player that pinches him publicly."
The Patna coach acknowledged that raiding has been his team's strength with Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat wreaking havoc in tandem. The skipper, in particular, has been on a record-breaking spree and is on his way to 300 raid-point mark in a single season.
"I haven't seen anybody like [Pardeep]," Ram Mehar Singh exclaimed, "The team does mistakes and then he goes and gets 10 points. There are many captains that get angry with their players when they make mistakes. They also interfere and tell the coach to change some players but he never does that. This is a very big plus about him. He always focuses on his game and on playing better each and every time. He never demotivates any player in the team."
He also emphasised the role Pardeep plays as he is influential in the opposition’s strategies to keep the Pirates in check.
"Every team thinks that if Pardeep is on the mat and the team is running behind by some points he can change the match at any time," he pointed out, "There's no alternative to Pardeep."
There may be no parallel alternatives but Goyat supports the raiding department very well providing Pardeep with the necessary confidence to take the team ahead. "I have seen Monu in the last season when he was with Bengal Warriors. If you calculated the number of the opportunities he got to play there, you would know he performed his best. For Services in the nationals also, he does his best," the coach spoke of his team’s second raider in glowing terms.
That said, Ram Mehar Singh recognises that it's a team sport and acknowledges the effort of other key members of the side. Vishal Mane is given more responsibility due to his seniority, for instance, letting the veteran defender guide his teammates during matches even if he hasn't performed to his full potential on the mat in the current campaign.
"He's a senior player and because of that the team is under some control," Ram Mehar Singh observed, "He has played all the seasons so far and I know that he'll perform better."
The focus has been on the flailing defence. More often than not, Patna Pirates has been involved in high-scoring matches this year as the opposition has been able to match the profuse raids of Pardeep and Goyat with their own.
"The weakness in defence is because of the increase in the number of teams and also the players," Ram Mehar Singh reckoned. "The best defending options have been divided between 12 teams this season and it’s been difficult to find the right combination, and that is the problem. If the defence of a team plays well then that team wins the match," he concluded.