Puneri Paltan proved that they are a formidable opposition in Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi by securing qualification for the playoffs way before their home leg began at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex. The Punekars beat their Maharashtra counterpart U Mumba in all three of their meetings this year and will be looking to emulate Mumbai’s Season 2 title triumph come the end of the month. They have dished out commanding performances with balance in attack as well as defence and are currently third in their zone despite playing fewer matches than any other team in the league so far. One of their key contributors this campaign, Sandeep Narwal sat down for an exclusive chat with prokabddi.com recently and spoke about his team’s ambitions amongst other things. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Pune have played the least number of matches but have qualified for the playoffs and are currently in third spot in Zone A. What are your thoughts on the same?

Given the way our defence and offence are performing, I can say we will try to reach to the top of our zone. We have qualified for the playoffs but we still have to fight to reach the summit of our zone.

What do you make of Pune’s defence and who are your main defenders?

This is the first time I am having a combination with Girish Maruti Ernak and when we are on the mat then no player can put us under pressure. When we go off the mat then the team tends to come under some pressure. So, the two of us are important in defence and Dharmaraj Cheralathan is also there. He is a player who can slot into any position.

What do you like the most about Girish Maruti Ernak’s game?

He is a powerful defender which is important because it means that no matter who the raider is, he blocks him and pins him down on the mat. He has a perfect ankle hold as well.

What about Ziaur Rahman who has impressed for Pune in what is this debut season?

This is the first time he is playing in the league and we are making him play consistently because when he tackles he tackles perfectly.

You are an all-rounder by trade, so what would you like to do more, raiding or defending?

I like to raid more and I enjoy raiding (chuckles).