Puneri Paltan faces UP Yodha in first eliminator
As per the coach BC Ramesh, the life would have been easier for them, as top placed team requires only one win to secure berth in the finals, while second and third placed teams need three matches.pune Updated: Oct 22, 2017 23:42 IST
The Puneri Paltan team was consistent throughout the league phase and were considered as a strong contender for the top place. However, losing to Gujarat Fortunegiants in every encounter (thrice) spoiled their chances of getting into top place in Zone A.
As per the coach BC Ramesh, the life would have been easier for them, as top placed team requires only one win to secure berth in the finals, while second and third placed teams need three matches.
Paltan will be facing UP Yoddha in the first eliminator in Mumbai on Monday. Though Paltan can be termed as the team with one of the best overall combinations in the league with players like Rajesh Mondal, Sandeep Narwal and captain Deepak Hooda contributing points in both attack and defence, the team certainly lacked two strong defenders. Girish Maruti Ernak put his best efforts but the overall defence always played against the team in crucial situations. Losing to Gujarat despite having lead in the last league match clearly underlines the issue and team management need to brainstorm to find a perfect solution.
Deepak Hooda, Puneri Paltan captain said, “Playoffs are going to be tough. We have fought hard to reach till here and we continue our fight till we lift the trophy. Tomorrow's encounter against UP Yoddha is a very crucial match. They too are a very strong team and their raiding power is good. They have a veteran defender and their defence is centered around Jeeva Kumar. It will definitely be a nail-biting clash for sure.”
On the other hand, Nitin Tomar, captain of UP Yoddha said, “We are really looking forward to playing in the eliminator. Our side reaching this stage for the first time is a big achievement. We are hoping to not just rest at this but aim for the pinnacle of this tournament. It has been an enriching journey for us as a group and there is nothing better than finishing on a high. We are going into this match as if it's the final and our performance will reflect the same.”
UP Yoddha’s journey to playoffs didn’t get a good start. They experienced the worst home leg amongst the three qualified teams from the zone with a win, a tie and four losses in Lucknow. Their star raiding duo of captain Tomar and Rishank Devadiga have carried the side on their shoulders for much of the season. Surender Singh has also contributed in offence. However, it’s their defence that needs to prove their mettle in the playoffs. Both Nitesh Kumar and Jeeva Kumar – who has the most super tackles (7) so far – will need to organise the defence and supplement their strong attack for a positive outcome in the playoffs.
In the League
Biggest Victory: 38-15 vs Jaipur Pink Panthers
Top raider: Deepak Hooda (154 raid points)
Top defender: Girish Maruti Ernak (55 tackle points)
Biggest Victory: 45-16 vs Dabang Delhi K.C.
Top raider: Nitin Tomar (160 raid points)
Top defender: Nitesh Kumar (46 tackle points)