An 18-point night from ‘Record Breaker’ Pardeep Narwal and a, record-equalling 11-tackle point performance from Neeraj Kumar helped Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan by a scoreline of 55-33 at the Shree Shiv, Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Balewadi in Pune on Sunday. At the post-match press conference, Patna Pirates coach Ram Mehar Singh and Puneri Paltan coach Anup Kumar took questions from the media.
Q. With this win, there's now a very good chance to reach the playoffs...
Ram Mehar Singh: In the opening five-six games, we lost some of those matches at the last moment. And the last four-five matches we have lost, the biggest thing was that Jang Kun Lee was missing. The team needs the support of a second raider. But Pardeep Narwal managed to do his job nevertheless. But we got to see his actual game in the last three matches. And today I am happy to say that my defence worked extremely well. Neeraj set a record, that's a proud moment for me. Neeraj has been a plus point, he supported both Pardeep and Lee. He didn’t give any bonus points away. And the second raider supported Pardeep, and if they all play like that then we can get to the playoffs.
Q. How do you rate your playoff chances?
Ram Mehar Singh: That depends on the other teams... how many matches they win. If they win all their matches, then we would need to win all our remaining matches as well.
Q. You have won three matches in a row convincingly, what has been the biggest reason for this change?
Ram Mehar Singh: Any team which has repeatedly created history, been a three-time champion, sit at the bottom of the standings - whether it’s in kabaddi, cricket, football or any other sport - then the coach, management and players will be disappointed. Who would want to see a team that has been a triple champion languish at the bottom of the standings? And then we didn't have Lee as well, that had impacted us. But now the defence has also been doing extremely well. Lee is back and has supported Pardeep well in the last two matches.
Q. Yesterday the performance was great but today it didn't click. Why is that so?
Anup Kumar: See, the team is the same. Even the starting seven was the same. Neither the defence set in this game nor the raiders clicked, as much as we had hoped. It was okay until half time. But it's difficult to play against someone like Pardeep. Our side isn't quite perfect, our two covers are injured, so that's one big problem. Rest, we executed advance tackles and that's why we lost. Pardeep had executed two toe touches, one to Surjeet Singh and the other to Nitin Tomar and that explains it.
Q. What would you say about the raiding unit as Neeraj Kumar scored 11 tackle points in this match?
Anup Kumar: The raiding wasn't up to the mark. But if you check Neeraj's performance in his previous matches, they aren't this good. He has scored a point here and there, and I think he had one High 5 and after that he played so well, that means our raiders weren't alert enough. They didn't focus on him at all. He tackled one raider two-three times, and the raiders should have taken note of that.
Q. Do you feel you didn't prepare enough for Neeraj?
Anup Kumar: We had prepared well, based on the opposition team's analysis.