Stand-in captain Mohammad Nabibakhsh’s brilliant all-round display saw Bengal Warriors move to the top of the vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 7 standings with a 33-29 victory against Tamil Thalaivas at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida on Wednesday. At the post-match press conference, Bengal Warriors’ coach BC Ramesh took questions for his team, while Tamil Thalaivas were represented by their coach J Udaya Kumar.
Q. What kept the game close in the first half?
BC Ramesh: Their defence was outstanding in the first half. Maninder Singh and K Prapanjan were missed today in our raiding unit. We lacked a lead raider.
Q. Will the team struggle if Maninder Singh isn’t fit for the playoffs?
BC Ramesh: Prapanjan will be back for sure during the semi-finals. His return will be a huge boost. Nabibakhsh has been brilliant. He can contribute too. Sukesh Hegde as well has proved to be a brilliant weapon off the bench. I remember a game where we rested Maninder against Dabang Delhi K.C. and managed to tie. So, we can definitely cope without him, but we would prefer to have him.
Q. How important was this win?
BC Ramesh: Winning today was important because qualifying for the semi-finals was extremely important. We were in a position to seal that berth against Patna Pirates, but we lost control of the game in the final few minutes. We wanted to give a chance to our bench players in this match, but the previous result forced our hand and we had to play a strong outfit today.
Q. Thoughts on the season?
J Udaya Kumar: The senior players obviously weren’t up to the mark this season and the younger players, who were performing better, fell prey to injury concerns. Hemant (Chauhan) had to sit out due to injuries and V Ajith Kumar too has had a few niggles that has slowed him down a bit.
Q. What went wrong this season?
J Udaya Kumar: We were heavily reliant on our senior players and we didn’t nurture our younger players the way we should have. Once the seniors suffered a few injuries, we couldn’t replace them and that really hurt us after what was a decent start.