After a thrilling set of eliminator matches as part of Pro Kabaddi 2019, the EKA Arena by TransStadia will play host to the semifinal stages as the Bengal Warriors will be squaring off against U Mumba in the second semifinal, with the former chasing their first-ever PKL title.
Courtesy of their top-two finish from the league stages, the Warriors earned a direct spot in the top four. With the raiding unit comprising of Maninder Singh, K Prapanjan, Sukesh Hegde among others looking in fine nick, the U Mumba defenders will certainly need to bring their A-game to the mat on matchday.
Yet, the Warriors will face a slight dent in their quest for a spot in the final with their captain, Maninder Singh, yet to recover fully from a shoulder injury he sustained during the Panchkula leg, and it remains to see if he will feature in the side against U Mumba.
With a place in the final on the line for the Warriors, Sportskeeda caught up with the Warriors' raider K Prapanjan and young corner defender Baldev Singh, as the duo shed light on their responsibilities in the side ahead of this important encounter.
One of most imperative parts of the Warriors' raiding unit, Prapanjan claims that the team is prepared and the team's confidence level is quite high, hours before their crucial encounter against the season two champions.
We have our strategies in place and the team is in good shape before our semifinal clash. Unlike the league stage games where we can afford to lose a few games, this is a must-win game, but we are confident of doing well as a team.
What is interesting to note, however, is that the Warriors have been plagued by injuries all through the season, with Prapanjan himself having carried an injury that kept him out of the last few games. Yet, he reckons that he is back to full fitness and will be keen to contribute to the team's success.
I did pick up an injury that kept me from bringing my best on to the mat. But now I have recovered and have received a lot of support from the team. My focus will be to collect raid points at crucial points and also help the likes of Jeeva Kumar and the other defenders with some tackles.
While the Warriors prepare in all earnest for the clash against U Mumba, their captain and lead raider this season, Maninder Singh, is racing against time to get back into prime fitness for this encounter. When quizzed about Maninder's possible absence for this encounter, Prapanjan avoids the 'lead raider' tag but instead chooses to focus on sticking to his role of picking up points.
We have many quality raiders in our side and if one plays under the lead raider tag, the pressure of such an important match could have a negative impact. Succeeding in such a high pressure situation is all about each player supporting another all throughout the game.
The Warriors have done well against U Mumba this season, with wins from both of the league stage matches contested between these two sides. However, Prapanjan chooses to remain focused on the upcoming match, and not on past results.
One can't predict what happens in any game until the very last minute. The message given to us is to concentrate every minute, stick to the basics and the result will automatically follow.
While Maninder and Prapanjan have made an impact with their raiding, on the defensive front, Baldev Singh has impressed and is leading the score charts this season for the Warriors, with 62 points from 22 matches. Ahead of the semifinal clash against U Mumba, Baldev expressed his thoughts on his side having reached the last four.
We are very happy to have qualified for the semifinals by finishing in the second position on the points table. We won both matches against U Mumba in the league stages and our team combination is working very well this season.
U Mumba's raiders Abhishek Singh and Arjun Deshwal were at the top of their game during the eliminator against the Haryana Steelers as both youngsters picked up Super 10s and led their side to a fine win.
Faced with the prospect of having to lead the defensive unit against the young duo, Baldev claims that the video analysis will be a major tool that his side will use to plot the downfall of the opposition raiders.
We will do a video analysis to find out the weaknesses of the opposition raiders and hopefully stick to striking with the targets we are told by the coach. The corner combination between Rinku and me is working well and if we get support from the cover defenders, that could help us keep U Mumba's raiders away from doing well.