It was a match between two of the most in-form teams in Zone A and it delivered on its hype as Gujarat Fortunegiants narrowly edged out U Mumba by a scoreline of 38-36 at the Dome@NSCI SVP stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. In the post-match press conference, coach Manpreet Singh and captain Sunil Kumar took questions for Gujarat Fortunegiants while U Mumba were represented by coach Gholamreza Mahmoud Mazandarani, captain Fazel Atrachali and raider Siddharth Desai.

Gujarat Fortunegiants

Q. Was Mahendra Rajput’s raid the turning point of the match?

Manpreet Singh: Well, all my players did well. I wouldn’t point to any one moment. We made multiple substitutions over the course of the 40 minutes and every player contributed. But yes, the raid was a huge moment in the match and gave us an important lead.

Q. The game got close towards the end. Was it nerves?

Sunil Kumar: No, it was the coach’s strategy to give them nothing more than a point and make sure we spend the entire duration of the clock during our raids in their half. We had the lead and we knew Siddharth Desai would come in and attempt to get bonus and touch points so we decided to limit them only to a single point.

Q. Who according to you is the main man on the mat for you?

Manpreet Singh: I don’t look at it that way. In my opinion, all twenty players in our roster are equally important to the cause and all of them give their 100% every time. But we are permitted to field only seven players on the mat so we make a call the night before after assessing the condition of every player.  

Q. You didn’t allow a single point to Fazel Atrachali in the first half. Was that a strategy?

Manpreet Singh: Among all of U Mumba’s players, I’d say Fazel Atrachali is the one who has been in the best form. So we strategised that our raiders will maintain a distance from him and not attack him as much. The key to beating them was to ensure that he doesn’t have a big game. And we managed to execute that for close to 25 minutes in the game. But the thing about great players is that their quality eventually shines through and that’s what happened towards the end of the match. We are glad to have scored a win against an in-form side and we have two more matches to look forward to against them. We’ll be prepared just like we know that they will be too.

U Mumba                      

Q. A back-and-forth game that went down to the wire. What turned the game?

Siddharth Desai: That seven-point raid was the turning point of the game. We had the lead and that raid really turned the tide in their favour.

Q. Any thoughts on the match?

Fazel Atrachali: It was a great game and these things happen. We only made one big error in the match and that cost us. I take responsibility for that. We’ll ensure that we don’t make such an error in the following games.

Q. Do you think you are being overworked in offence?

Siddharth Desai: No, we have a fantastic core of raiders. Even when I’m not on the mat, my fellow raiders ensure that we keep the scoreboard ticking. I do shoulder a bulk of the responsibility but by no means am I the only one contributing.