With back-to-back titles under their belt, Patna Pirates have got used to the winning feeling. With a chance of completing a hat-trick of titles on Saturday, Patna are sure to enter the battlefield with their barrels stocked up with ammunition. Gujarat Fortunegiants seem the favourites to win but the rampaging form Pardeep Narwal has shown in the last three matches surely gives them plenty of hope.
Entering the match, coach Ram Mehar Singh believes that the overall feeling in the squad is good and the pressure of retaining the title does not weigh heavy on the players. At the pre-match press conference in Chennai on Friday, he said: “We are feeling very good. When the coaching camp started, we had the pressure of how the entire team will fare as we were the two-time champions and whether we will achieve a hat-trick or not. I had a lot of such questions coming to my mind but the team did well and the wish of getting a hat-trick is just one step away from us. We have worked hard to make that wish into reality and we are ready. We hope god helps us in getting the hat-trick as we have put in so much hard work. We will see how the players play the match but we are confident and the players are motivated.”
Team performance aside, the impact Pardeep Narwal have had on Patna’s fortunes this season is unquestionable. When Narwal faces arguably the best defensive unit in the league, sparks are sure to fly left, right and centre. Even though, Gujarat’s strategy to contain Narwal worked in their two matches this season, the Patna coach seemed confident of Narwal’s prospects ahead of the grand finale. “They have the best defenders in the league and we have the world’s best raider who doesn’t have any other raider close to him. Both my raiders [Narwal and Monu Goyat] are in the best five and our defenders are there in the top 10 as well as the all-rounders. The final will be great because the matches which we played against Gujarat were very tough. But, I think the kind of performance that Pardeep has shown in the last three matches, if he shows even 50 percent of that we could win,” he said.
For the most part of the league, the Patna coach had rued the deficiency in his defence where the experience players had failed to give support to the raiders. But in the last three matches, the defence has looked effective, playing more collectively and with calm composure. The coach, however, believes that their raiding unit is so strong that only in comparison the defence looks weak but in reality, it has played fairly well all season. “If we see the first match against Gujarat our defence played very well. In the second also they played well but not like the first one. In the match against Haryana, Pardeep raided well and the defence also did well. When both the teams are equal we can’t say anything that we will surely win. Every person thinks that Pardeep is our key man but in the match, we will show our second key and our defence will also perform well. The final match will be entertaining for those who will be watching it and we hope that we can get a hat-trick.”
The coach also dismissed the possibility of having Plan B in case Narwal and Goyat failed to fire. “This is not possible that they will not perform. Anything can happen in a game but I don’t think this will happen. If Pardeep starts scoring points then he will not stop,” he concluded.