Puneri Paltan have enjoyed a strong VIVO Pro Kabaddi campaign this season with dominant displays in the first half. The Paltan are one of the most well-balanced sides in the league and proved that fact by securing their playoff berth with a lot of games in hand. With stars in both attack and defence, Pune will take some beating this year as they eye their maiden Pro Kabaddi triumph. The Maharashtra outfit’s coach BC Ramesh sat down with prokabaddi.com earlier this season and assessed his players and team in an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts.

You have a lot of aggressive players in your team like Deepak Hooda and Sandeep Narwal, who try for early All-Outs. Was there any specific plan to recruit these individuals during the auction?

No, it wasn’t our plan. We went to the auction to only pick certain players. We first wanted to retain our players who were in the auction and then we selected players according to the strategy which we made. We selected Sandeep Narwal because we wanted him in the right corner. He is an all-rounder so he can raid at some point in the match as well. We also wanted a left corner which is why we selected Girish Maruti Ernak and Dharmaraj Cheralathan. Both of them can raid as well.

So if aggression wasn’t the strategy from the start, is it safe to assume that it was a tactic you opted for later in the league?

Strategy for a match is different and strategy for the auction is different. For the match we opted for a do-or-die strategy, which means our raiders don’t necessarily need points in the first two raids but will go and get points in the third raids. And after getting points in the do-or-die raids, we will concentrate on defence.

Dharmaraj Cheralathan has been used sparingly this season. What’s his role as a senior defender?

We have taken three defenders for a particular place. So, we took Girish because we can make him play as left corner and left cover and the reason we took Cheralathan in the team is because we can make him play in the left corner, left cover, right corner and also in right cover. He has practised in these positions with that in mind and is ready to perform in match situations.

If you have an All-Out chance, Sandeep generally goes in for a raid and is successful more often than not, so tell us about him.

Sandeep is an all-round player and also plays in the corner position. When there are fewer defenders on the court then we require a raider who has speed because at that time there is a big chance of a raider getting tackled. So a raider who has speed can disturb the defence which Sandeep can do. This is the reason why we send him at that time to raid.

What do you make of Deepak Hooda’s first season as captain of Pune?

He is a player who has qualities which are required for a captain. We have Sandeep and Cheralathan in the team and they are also very experienced but we chose Deepak because he has the quality to be a good captain.

We have seen that your team faces difficulties in winning low-scoring games when compared to high-scoring matches. Any particular reason for that...

Yes, at that time the players need to be patient. Patience is very important in such tight situations. At that time we need to play a different game and according to the situation. We will have to make the strategy according to the situation of the game and we have to decide which raider to send, how the defenders will tackle and everything needs to be planned at that time.