Bengal Warriors qualified for their first-ever vivo Pro Kabaddi final appearance after beating U Mumba 37-35 in Season 7’s second semi-final at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. Despite the absence of talisman Maninder Singh, Bengal Warriors did enough to overcome U Mumba by a slender margin. At the post-match press conference, U Mumba’s assistant coach Upendra Kumar faced the media, while coach BC Ramesh represented Bengal Warriors.
Q. What was discussed during the timeout before Ajinkya Kapre’s raid?
Upendra Kumar: After taking the timeout, we thought that Ajinkya Kapre could get us a few points and he did. However, we should have used him more (after his Super Raid) and didn’t send him in for consecutive raids and that was a bit detrimental to our cause tonight. Ajinkya had momentum on his side and could have finished the game for us, but we didn’t allow him to do so and that was a mistake on our part.
Q. Who took the decision not to use Ajinkya on consecutive raids?
Upendra Kumar: Sometimes in the heat of the moment it feels like the right thing, but the decision came from the captain (Fazel Atrachali) and Arjun Deshwal was the chosen raider to get the job done.
Q. Where do you feel you’ll lost the game?
Upendra Kumar: We made a few mistakes at the start. Fazel was at fault for conceding two points twice and that gave Bengal Warriors four points there itself. I feel that was the turning point and then they targeted Fazel to the extent that let’s approach him and he will concede points. So, Fazel made those errors and it cost us.
Q. Thought on the performance of your defence?
Upendra Kumar: Our defence made several errors at the start. Our raiders still managed to close the deficit with good work. However, towards the end the raiders couldn’t execute their plans as well as earlier. Towards the end only Abhishek Singh got us points and another problem was that we didn’t have any raiders who could attack Bengal Warriors’ defence from the left side of the court. If we had a good raider known for attacking from the left, we could have exploited Jeeva Kumar’s shortcomings. Abhishek, Arjun and Ajinkya are all raiders that prefer attacking from the right side.
Q. Coach, we will be seeing Bengal Warriors in a Pro Kabaddi final for the first time. How does it feel?
BC Ramesh: Everyone is very happy to qualify for the final. I was always confident with my players and told them the same thing prior to tonight’s game. People were saying we could beat U Mumba by eight points or so, but it’s difficult to win by that margin. To win by two or three points against them is doable. The management and our captain, Maninder are all happy with the win.
Q. Any update on Maninder’s injury?
BC Ramesh: Maninder still isn’t fit to play and he’s a bit tentative. So, right now it’s all about working and then let’s see if he can make it to the mat.
Q. Thoughts on why it was such a close game?
BC Ramesh: I always predicted that it would be a close match, but we could have won it by a big margin as well. They used the bonus points pretty well and that’s what got them so close in the end.