The curtains came down at Ranchi on Thursday with the audience witnessing two closely-fought encounters. In the first match of the day, Haryana Steelers overcame Jaipur Pink Panthers 30-26. The next, however, brought disappointment for the home team and their fans as defending champions Patna Pirates lay defeated in front of U.P. Yoddha’s all-round brilliance after losing 41-46.

Nitin Tomar was the undisputed star of the match as he finished the game with a mammoth tally of 18 points, aided ably by Rishank Devadiga who picked up 11 points. Tomar was heavily involved in the defence as well and picked up two tackle points. When asked about his defensive contribution, the Lucknow captain said, “We had planned today that every player will support in tackles. We won’t make it easy for the raiders to take points. We did give away 3 or 4 points at a time but as raiders we covered that up as well.”

Coach J Udaya Kumar also revealed that his team’s strategy was to “play defensive with Tomar and Devadiga going only in the do-or-die raids.” This was Lucknow’s first win after four matches and the coach seemed very happy with his lads. He added: “Today’s match was very important for us and we had to win it. We made our strategies according to the weaknesses of Patna and the plans were successful. The defence and offence played together as a unit.”

Patna had enjoyed a fabulous home leg with Thursday’s loss being the only spoiler. Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat had been unstoppable but the Yoddha managed to control them on Thursday. Coach Ram Mehar Singh had lamented the side’s poor defensive show several times previously, and the last day of the Ranchi leg was no different.

“From the start, the defence made mistakes and the raiders were also not performing. Pardeep got injured yesterday, so we were confused whether to play him or not. Once a player gets injured, he focuses more on that injury and hence, Pardeep was not able to execute his skills properly. Monu also didn’t support him tonight,” he said.

 “Yes, the disappointment is there. We thought we will win all the home leg matches because no other team has done that so far. We were confident but it’s alright. We hope our next games will be good for us," he concluded.