Hooda man?! Puneri Paltan captain lights up the pressure on title raid

Hindustan Times, Pune | ByAshish Phadnis
Oct 19, 2017 10:13 PM IST

At this stage we can’t afford to make mistakes, says Deepak Hooda

The Puneri Paltan team is currently sitting pretty on the second spot with 79 points from 21 matches. The team made a strong comeback after their disastrous loss against Gujarat Fortunegiants and Haryana Steelers.

Puneri Paltan captain Deepak Hooda (orange) in action during a Pro Kabaddi league match. Heading to the knockouts the Pune team wants to finish top of the league.(HT PHOTO)
Puneri Paltan captain Deepak Hooda (orange) in action during a Pro Kabaddi league match. Heading to the knockouts the Pune team wants to finish top of the league.(HT PHOTO)

Though the team have picked up the rhythm after beating U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers, skipper Deepak Hooda raised a concern that the team can’t afford to make any mistakes further.

“In the earlier stage of the tournament, it was possible to rectify your mistakes, work on it and improve in the next game. As the league stage is racing to the end, the qualifying teams are set, you really don’t have time to make a mistake and then rectify it. We are in such a state that we can’t afford any more mistakes,” Hooda told HT.

Paltan will play their last league match against Gujarat Fortunegiants on Friday. The hosts have never managed to beat Gujarat and have suffered loss twice against them. So it will be an uphill task for the players.

“When two equally strong teams face each other, the team with less mistakes wins. It’s as simple is that. We have come all the way, beating almost every team in the league and we are now quite close to the title. We are now playing in front of our home crowd and we must justify their faith in us,” he added.

Hooda, who is basically from Rohtak, Haryana, is known for his ‘captain cool’ behaviour. However, when asked whether he feels any pressure during the game, he says, “Pressure is always there, but it’s the pressure to perform better, to play the role well. There is no such pressure about any team or any particular player. We have been playing Pro-Kabaddi for three four seasons now and we are familiar with such pressure.”

Talking about motivating his players, he says, “Most of the players in our team are quite experienced. They don’t need motivation like kids. We just need to have a word with the youngsters who are filled with energy and enthusiasm. It’s our duty to let them understand what is expected from them and that’s it.”

Due to the Pro-Kabaddi league, the sport has become quite popular and players have a tight schedule round the year.

“That’s true. Immediately after the league the state and national tournaments will start. Then there will be the Federation Cup and the India camp. So it’s a busy schedule ahead,” he says.

Why top place is crucial

As per the new format this season, the play off matches hugely benefit the top placed team. The top teams in both Zones (A and B) will have to win just one match to reach the final. Even if they lose, they have one more chance to enter the final. On the other hand, the second and third placed teams will have to face first qualifier, then first eliminator, and then second eliminator, to reach the final.

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