The battle between the two heavyweights of Zone B in Qualifier 2 ended in Patna Pirates’ favour as they fended off Bengal Warriors’ late comeback to win 47-44 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Thursday and set up a title clash with Gujarat Fortunegiants on Saturday. Patna started comprehensively by handing the Warriors an All-Out within the first four minutes to take a considerable lead and rock the Warriors’ initial strategy.

Captain Surjeet Singh, who failed to fire in the match, concluded in the post-match press conference that the shaky start hurt their game plan. He said: “The main mistake was at the start that when I tried for a tackle and gave away a point. If we had tackled their raider, then the match could have been different. Later, we got a chance but again gave away two points. Pardeep is a good raider and no defence can forcefully tackle him. We made a lot of small mistakes. We recovered after they had the lead but it’s a game and someone has to lose, so it’s alright.”

Injuries also played a part in Bengal’s exit as Jang Kun Lee failed to start because of a major back injury and his replacement Vinod Kumar failed to create an impact. Surjeet said: “Every team wants to win such a big league. We feel bad that we lost our last two matches. In this match, we played really hard. It’s a game and one team has to win. At the start, our raiders and defenders had small injuries. We tried to stick to our plans but it was hard luck. We covered the lead quite a bit and if we had two more minutes, then probably we could have won the game.”

Warriors coach Jagdish Kumble, meanwhile, rued the defensive errors his team committed at crucial junctures of the match. “The match went into Patna’s hands right at the start. In the middle period, the defence made some mistakes. The tackle which Surjeet attempted was a good tackle but the support came in late and the raider was Pardeep. If another raider was there then we didn’t have to think much, but if he’s there then we have to think because he can release anytime from the tackle. When there were three players from our side on the mat, then also the tackle attempted by Surjeet was perfect but because of some mistakes, the point went. This is luck but we fought till the end,” he said.

Pardeep Narwal proved too hot to handle for the Warriors as he ended the match with a whopping tally of 23 points. When asked why tackling Narwal is so difficult for defenders, Surjeet said: “There are two types of raiders. One, who no matter how many times he gets tackled, he keeps on continuing and the second who after getting tackled comes under pressure. Pardeep has the quality that no matter how many times he gets tackled, he will continue raiding and he has a skill that even after getting tackled he can escape from the defence.”