Puneri Paltan held their nerve to pull off a narrow 40-38 win over U.P. Yoddha in Monday’s first eliminator at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai. They set up a mouth-watering contest with Patna Pirates in the third eliminator of the season at the expense of a strong Lucknow outfit who ran them close in the match and had the lead during vast stretches of the match.

Speaking to the media at the post-match press conference, Pune skipper Deepak Hooda said: “I would like the entire credit for this win to go to my team… I controlled my team patiently and all the credit goes to them. I trust them more than I trust myself. I am confident that I won’t lose till I have these guys in the team.”

Expanding on their brilliant display in the second half, Hooda opined: “We were behind in the first half and it was a knockout match, so we knew that we will not get a second chance if we lose this one. Even when we were behind we were confident and got points which we required. We also were in the lead in the second half. After today’s win the team is high on confidence because making a comeback in the match and winning the game in the knockout stage is a big motivator for us. We have also learned is that after getting the lead we do not have to give away points.”

Girish Maruti Ernak, who accompanied Hooda to the press-conference, also spoke about if there was any specific strategy in place to contain Lucknow’s go-to man Rishank Devadiga. “No, I didn’t make any specific strategy for him. We both play from the same team locally, so I know his game and I can tackle him,” he said.

When asked for his thoughts on Pune’s crunch tie against Patna on Tuesday in the third eliminator of the season, Ernak added: “We will play the same way we played today and go about our game patiently. We listen to whatever our coach tells us and follow the strategies made by him.”