In the second semifinal of Pro Kabaddi 2019, the Bengal Warriors will face off against U Mumba, with the latter clinching a comfortable 46-38 win over the Haryana Steelers in the second eliminator that took place at the EKA Arena by TransStadia at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
With four wins from their last five league stage matches, the Warriors cemented their spot in the top two positions on the points table, thus earning a direct ticket into the semifinals of this edition.
U Mumba did record a massive 12-point win against the Steelers but will need to be vary of the challenged posed by the Warriors, with the latter picking up wins from both the league stage matches contested between these two sides this season.
In the leadup to this high-voltage encounter, Sportskeeda caught up with Bengal Warriors coach BC Ramesh, who spoke about Maninder Singh's possible return to the side, the need for the defenders to put in a good show against U Mumba among other topics.
"Maninder is a role model to our side and his presence will be very important for us. Just like Pawan for Bengaluru and Naveen for Delhi, Maninder is our top raider and if he is declared fit for the upcoming games, we will definitely lift the title."
"He did fall down hard on the mat and picked up an injury, but he has had 10 days to recover. Is it upto him to put in the hard yards and make up his mind to play and if he does get on to the mat against U Mumba, his presence will certainly boost the confidence level of the entire team."
While coach Ramesh pins his hopes on the star raider's return, two men from the former's home state, namely K Prapanjan and Sukesh Hegde are preparing to take up the challenge of leading the side's raiding unit, and the coach claims that he has faith in these two raiders to stand tall against the challenge from U Mumba's defenders.
"Sukesh has done well in the recent past, and Prapanjan has supported Maninder very well thus far. Prapanjan is coming off an injury, and if he plays fearlessly, then I have full faith in these two raiders to do well on the raiding front, with support from Nabibakhsh, who has contributed in both offence and defence this season."
While much talk has been around the Warriors' proficiency on the raiding front, the defenders have looked slightly shaky, barring the corner combination of Baldev Singh and Rinku Narwal. Coach Ramesh added emphasis on the extra efforts put in by the rest of the defensive unit to make matters difficult for the U Mumba raiders.
"The corner combination has worked well for us and I have complete faith in my defenders that they will do well against U Mumba. The cover defenders have not been able to produce their 100% on the mat, but all of them are experienced players who have understood their mistakes. They will definitely do well in the semifinal."
Having won season six with the Bengaluru Bulls as an assistant coach, coach Ramesh is no stranger to the pressure that comes along with the knockout stages, as he sheds light on the need for every player on his team to assume responsibility and stick to their role for the Warriors to make their way into the final.
"Featuring in the playoffs is like a Do or Die situation and all of the seven players on the mat will need to take up complete responsibility. They will have to play according to the game plan, to ensure that we have the upper hand. We have our strategies in place, and now it is all about executing them on the mat against U Mumba."