Despite the convincing 43-35 victory over Tamil Thalaivas at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Balewadi in Pune on Saturday, Haryana Steelers isn't planning to take it easy for their remaining league matches. Tamil Thalaivas, on the other hand, see some positives in their latest loss but may soon run out of strategic options to play. Here are excerpts from the post-match press conference.
Q. How confident is your team?
Rakesh Kumar: The team is playing well. I am happy. But I am also a little nervous because we had such a good lead and the match was going so well. On the head of advance tackles, the match was mostly neck and neck. We could have won with a better margin if we had not committed small mistakes.
Q. Vikash Kandola got a Super 10 and Vinay too performed well...
Rakesh Kumar: Absolutely. Vikash was quite nervous at the start because Manjeet Chhillar is very good defender and he has quite a few good qualities. So Vikash was quite wary of his advance tackles, but after half time we noticed that he wasn't going for it. We decided for Vikash to stick to moves that he was perfect in. There were a lot of times where Manjeet was coming in closer and then falling back. We decided that we should go in deep and try and score from there. That's what happened, Vikash went in deep.
Q. Haryana Steelers are expected to reach the playoffs comfortably. How does it feel?
Rakesh Kumar: That's something to be happy about, of course. I am coach here and the team is doing well. What else can me happier? I have put in the effort in the team during our camp, and I am satisfied with the fact they are performing well as a result. About the remaining seven matches, I can't say that my team has qualified for the playoffs. Seven matches is a lot. Every team is capable of fighting back. I just want us to play the remaining matches in the same rhythm.
Q. What do you have to say about the match?
J Udaya Kumar: There were some concerns about the team combination right from the start. After losing a string of successive matches, the morale has been down. Along with that, the communication within the team had been affected. Despite that we had prepared well. Unluckily there was a mistake done at the crucial point of the match, and because of that the team lost.
Q. Were there any positives in this match?
J Udaya Kumar: Compared to previous matches, the defence had improved quite a lot. We kept a few of Kandola's raids in check, along with him, Vinay has been performing well too, but we managed to address him too. However, some of our raids weren't successful and the mistake from an experienced player could have been avoided, but unfortunately that happened. That's the thing.
Q. Victor Obiero performed well; scored raid points, and struck a Super Tackle, can you spare a few words about him?
J Udaya Kumar: He is from Kenya, and he has been practicing for a while now. He had been nursing an injury and had been sidelined for quite a few days. So he didn't get his opportunity. When the team loses repeatedly, then any coach would be afraid to experiment. We wanted a win. Till the time he was there he tried, but didn't exactly work out. We really had no other option. The youngsters we have aren't match-winners. I had tried them out in the previous matches, they were quite excited. In such a tough competition, it's not right to experiment the youngsters so soon. But we had no choice, so we tried it out.