Haryana Steelers rose to third in the vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 7 standings after a 41-25 win over Gujarat Fortunegiants at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex in Delhi on Wednesday. Soon after the final whistle, Haryana Steelers’ assistant coach Mandar Shetty, skipper Dharmaraj Cheralathan and star raider Vikash Kandola attended the post-match press conference, while coach Manpreet Singh and captain Sunil Kumar answered reporters for Gujarat Fortunegiants.
Q. Coach, happy with the performance of the team?
Mandar Shetty: We played well today, and our combinations were spot on. We did have some lapses in defence but we recovered well and the raiders performed very well. Prashanth Kumar Rai also got a few raid points.
Q. Dharmaraj, happy with the result?
Dharmaraj Cheralathan We played very well today. While tackling, Ravi Kumar was exceptional. He got us most of the tackle points. Plus, our three raiders Vikash Kandola, Prashanth Kumar Rai and Vinay also played well and supported the team. Everyone played well and we won in a good manner.
Q. Coach, what was the thinking behind resting Vikash Kandola towards the end of the match?
Mandar Shetty: We just wanted to give our bench players some game-time in the last few minutes when we already had a big lead and were winning. We had no fitness concerns about any players. It was just about giving some players a chance.
Q. Up to third in the standings now. How would you sum up the season so far?
Mandar Shetty: After losing the first few matches this season, coach Rakesh Kumar, me and the team regrouped. We planned what to do, played according to the plan and motivated our young players. Everyone responded and began playing well after that. We did have issues at the start, but we’ve turned that around now. We’re confident and on our way up in the standings.
Q. Coach, what went wrong today?
Manpreet Singh: The defence didn’t play well at the start. After the first All-Out, we lost the game because we played in a rash and hasty manner while trying to play quickly. So, the defence couldn’t get set and, even though the raiders were scoring well at the start, they couldn’t sustain it. Our plans weren’t successful.
Q. Why wasn’t Sachin Tanwar seen on the mat?
Manpreet Singh: Sachin picked up a slight knock on his knee in Ahmedabad. The doctor has advised one to two weeks rest, which should be completed by the next match and we’ll look to bring him back into the team after that.
Q. Sunil, were you feeling extra pressure?
Sunil Kumar: Our defence didn’t play well today. If we had played well from the start then, maybe we could have won the game. But after the first All-out, they had a huge lead and our raiders also began to get caught by their defence. I didn’t feel much pressure but the defence let us down as a whole, which is why we lost.
Q. Coach, how do you plan on coming back from this defeat?
Manpreet Singh: Look, we’re trying our level best like all the teams are. We’re trying to forge a comeback in the league, but we’re not getting the results and have been running into a lot of hard luck. We’ll continue to keep trying and work even harder in our practice sessions.