A back-and-forth battle between U Mumba and U.P. Yoddha eventually finished in the favour of the team from Maharashtra, as they held their nerve in the dying moments to secure a 39-36 victory at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Balewadi in Pune on Wednesday. At the post-match press conference, U Mumba assistant coach Upendra Kumar, captain Fazel Atrachali and raider Abhishek Singh took questions for their team while coach Sanjeev Kumar, skipper Nitesh Kumar and raider Rishank Devadiga represented U.P. Yoddha.
Q. The turnaround happened after the timeout in the second half. What was said during it?
Upendra Kumar: Our captain (Fazel Atrachali) noticed something in their defence and told the raiders to try and attack that area. So Fazel gets credit for the turnaround.
Q. Great character shown by the team to comeback. Thoughts?
Upendra Kumar: We have found ourselves in situations where we have conceded an early All-Out. And every time, we have managed to fight back and get the game close. Majority of the times in those situations, you need a raider to step up and make his mark. And today Abhishek Singh did that for us. He was superb throughout out the night. He went in for tough raids and returned with points. His raid at the end was extremely crucial. Even Arjun Deshwal went in and got some points. Great game for both our raiders.
Q. What was said during that timeout, Fazel?
Fazel Atrachali: The way their defence was set up, I figured they were expecting a left-sided raider. So I told Abhishek to run in and surprise them. And he executed the strategy brilliantly.
Q. Was the surprise attack pre-planned?
Abhishek Singh: These things cannot be discussed. These are decisions to be made in the spur of the moment. Fazel had told me I'll make Athul MS stand close to the midline and then you attack from the other side. I knew Nitesh would try a Thigh Hold, so I had my escape plan ready in case he pounced. He did and thankfully I was able to execute a good raid.
Q. Thoughts on the match?
Sanjeev Kumar: The defence did not play well in the final phase. We made uncharacteristic errors in the final few minutes. Had we avoided them, the result would have been completely different.
Q. Your views on Abhishek Singh's performance?
Sanjeev Kumar: He was able to pick up points against Nitesh (Kumar) without giving away any tackle points. That definitely affected our game. He played well today.
Q. Where do you think the game changed?
Rishank Devadiga: The match was pretty evenly contested for the majority of the 40 minutes. Towards the end, we needed points from the defence and instead of scoring some, we ended up giving away one too many points. That I believe was the difference between the two sides today. Abhishek's Super Raid and do-or-die raid in the closing stages proved costly.