U.P. Yoddha’s Rishank Devadiga and Monu Goyat discuss tactics during the game against U Mumba.

U.P. Yoddha registered their first win of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 7 with a 27-23 victory over U Mumba at the Dome, NSCI, SVP Stadium' in Mumbai on Wednesday. After the match, U.P. Yoddha’s coach Jasveer Singh and star raider Rishank Devadiga, who played his first game of the season, spoke to reporters at the post-match press conference. Meanwhile, U Mumba coach Sanjeev Kumar and captain Fazel ‘Sultan’ Atrachali attended the conference from the Mumbai camp.

U.P. Yoddha

Q. Rishank, tell us what was going through your mind in the closing stages of the match?

Rishank Devadiga: In the last one and a half minutes we had  our second raid. So, if I had gone and attempted to get a point in that raid and ended up coming back empty handed then our defence would have six players and U Mumba would have a chance of getting a bonus. That would become a problem for us on our third raid because we could have ended up being trapped. That’s why I wasted the first 25 seconds and decided to try in the last five seconds of the raid. Even if I would be out after that I knew that their raiders cannot come and get a bonus point against our five defenders, he’d have to play the entire 30 seconds. So that’s what was on my mind and hence I took my time and attacked in the last five seconds. It worked in our favour that Fazel (stepped off court and) got out, resulting in a point for us.

Q. How does it feel to be back?

Rishank Devadiga: The feeling is good. I had a bit of a muscle problem just before the season began. It was pretty disappointing for me because at the start of the season  we thought we were set. Looking at the Mumbai leg, I was determined to get fit and help my team.   

Q. What does it mean to you to play in Mumbai?

Rishank Devadiga: Playing in Mumbai is always special and for me it’s a dream. I’ve been playing for three seasons with U.P. Yoddha now, but I still have a soft corner for Mumbai because I started in this league with U Mumba. There’s a different atmosphere here and I was confident of doing well here. I had mentally prepared myself to give a 100% in this game irrespective of anything and that seemed to also rub off on the team.

Q. Coach, how important was it to win today after two losses to start the season?

Jasveer Singh: Our new talents are mostly in defence and in the two matches that we have lost so far, those combinations made a few errors. But the four days break we got after coming to Mumbai gave us a chance for planning and making new combinations, which performed well today and helped us win.

Q. Defenders have outperformed raiders so far this season. Why do you think that’s the case?

Jasveer Singh: Raiders will also start to perform very soon. Right now, things are a bit slow, it’s a slow game. Whoever raids swiftly though will get points.

U Mumba coach Sanjeev Kumar gives his players instructions.

U Mumba

Q. Defence performed well, but the raiders didn’t perform to expectations. Your thoughts?

Sanjeev Kumar: All our raiders are young. Abhishek Singh is continuing to perform but nobody is managing to support him at the moment. Arjun Deshwal is new and he didn’t manage to support Abhidhek today. There were certain instances when our raiders were very close to getting points but couldn’t. If we had got those points, perhaps we could have got a better result.

Q. Is your defence under too much pressure because of your raiders?

Sanjeev Kumar: No, I don’t think that’s the case. Our raiders are doing their job, it’s not like they aren’t doing anything. But yes, our entire defence hasn’t performed as cohesively as they should have.

Q. Are you feeling any pressure after consecutive losses?

Sanjeev Kumar: Not really. I mean you do feel a little bit of pressure after a loss but now we have a one-day gap. We’ll use that day to prepare once again and not take any pressure.