Gujarat Fortunegiants sounded out a massive statement of intent with a 44-20 win over Puneri Paltan at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Friday. Sukesh Hegde starred for the Fortunegiants with a game-high 15 points, which also happened to be his maiden Super 10.

Talking about his showing on the night after a below-par start to the season, Hegde had this to say at the post-match press conference: “I think this season has started for me now because I wasn’t able to get too many points in the first half of the season.”

Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh also expressed his satisfaction at Hegde’s performance. “Sukesh was the captain of our team from the start and because of that he was under pressure and was hence left out for our last three matches because we wanted him to realise that he is such a big star. In the practice sessions I told him to try and give his best in this game and he did that,” Manpreet said.

The Fortunegiants coach even stressed why he thought his team was the best in league. “Puneri Paltan are the second-best team in this league after us and they are performing well but we defeated them in the previous match. We had won against them by a big margin. Hence, we were confident that we would defeat them in this match as well,” Manpreet added.

Iranian corner and one of the best defenders of the season Fazel Atrachali also weighed in with his thoughts as far as his team’s title prospects were concerned. “I think we are a good side and we are performing as well. So, we have a good chance,” he said.