A Vikash Kandola Super 10 and a High 5 from skipper Dharmaraj Cheralthan led Haryana Steelers to a 41-27 win over Puneri Paltan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday. At the post-match press conference, assistant coach Mandar Shetty, skipper Cheralathan, raiders Kandola and Prashanth Kumar Rai took questions for Haryana Steelers. Puneri Paltan were represented by coach Anup Kumar and captain Surjeet Singh.
Q. Coach, another dominating display. What has been the key to your success?
Mandar Shetty: The players have performed well in the past few outings, so their confidence is high and it’s easier to perform when you are feeling confident on the mat. Coach Rakesh Kumar and I go over the game plan meticulously and prepare for every little thing. That has been key.
Q. Dharmaraj, your thoughts on Vikash Kandola?
Dharmaraj Cheralathan: Vikash is a special player. He is playing well and not only does he play well, he’s quite smart in how he goes about his business. He recognises where the points will come and when they will come. He’s been an instrumental part of our success. Hopefully, he carries on like this for the rest of the campaign
Q. What has changed from the start of the season to now?
Dharmaraj Cheralathan: Vikash missed a few games and so did Prashanth. Their return was a massive boost. We were finding our feet as a unit back then and now we feel much more comfortable with the personnel that we put out.
Q. Vikash, you are closing in on the top raiders this year. Thoughts?
Vikash Kandola: I don’t raid for accolades. I raid for my team and to score points for them. The coach has a set game plan on when I go in to raid and when I let the others take the onus. And I follow just that. My philosophy is pretty simple. Team's victory is priority number one. The rest isn’t nearly as important as that.
Q. Coach, thoughts on Vikash Kandola's performance?
Anup Kumar: He’s an excellent player. And obviously if you don’t tackle him as a team and with conviction, he'll make you pay. It’s not as if we don’t possess the ability to tackle him. The issue is that we are currently understaffed in the Left Cover department. Surjeet's been filling in, but he too has been a bit under the weather. That is obviously a concern right now, but sure enough, we'll be back to full strength soon.
Q. Thoughts on Nitin Tomar's performance?
Anup Kumar: He’s fit, he’s playing well. He’s scoring raid points, but he’s also being tackled a lot. He’s scoring eight or so but is giving up six to seven as well. He needs to pace his raids and attack when necessary, and not at all times.
Q. Do you believe you can get into the playoffs?
Anup Kumar: We have fought tooth and nail in every game, and we need to continue doing that. Obviously missing out on a point today was not ideal, but if we keep aiming for that solitary consolation prize, it would mean nothing in the end. We have 10 games left. We need to treat them all like our last. If we win eight of those, we will qualify for the playoffs, I believe.