It was yet another draw, but yet another fightback by the Puneri Paltan. 18-7 down at a point in the first half against the Jaipur Pink Panthers, the Puneri Paltan came back strongly in the contest to hold the Pink Panthers to a 32-32 draw in a thrilling match on Friday.
Defensive lapses on the right side of the Puneri Paltan defence gave away two super raids to the Pink Panthers in the first half, until Ashok Shinde restored the experienced Prashant Chavan into the Puneri Paltan line-up.
Prashant Chavan’s entry into the game had the calming effect on the otherwise shaky Puneri Paltan defence, as the Paltan managed to build on that stability to force a draw from the game.
The 34-year-old right corner defender spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda after the game as he analysed the fine nuances of the game, gave an insight into Puneri Paltan’s season so far and also ahead, before lauding the Punekars for their support shown towards his team.
Here are the excerpts
Puneri Paltan struggled until you came on. What was going wrong for your side?
PC: The problem was that our right corner, Ravi Kumar, wasn’t able to exert any kind of pressure on the raider. He wasn’t threatening the raider and that put the defence under pressure as Sonu Narwal got easy bonus points. When I went in, the coach asked to put pressure on the raider, by threatening him and I was able to stop the raider from having a go at our right-hand side.
You played for Jaipur Pink Panthers for the last two seasons. How did you help your team in preparing for this game and also during the game?
PC: I spent two seasons with Jaipur Pink Panthers and I know a lot about their players. That was one of the reasons, the Coach put me in the game. Despite that the Pink Panthers are a top team and they have many quality players, so making a plan for them and executing them are two different things altogether.
Puneri Paltan has drawn the last two games. How do you see these two results? Are they good or bad?
PC: I think the draws are good for us as it means we don’t lose a game. We have always collected points even when we have lost and the draw gives us three points instead of just one or probably zero. And these two draws have only helped our confidence. We are not far behind the top four spots and the draws have helped us remain in touching distance.
What can the Puneri Paltan do to convert these draws and narrow defeats into wins?
PC: As I said, we need to get our right cover-corner combination going. There is no doubt that the players we have at our disposal are all top quality players, but you need a combination to develop at that position. We are also missing a few players like Deepak Hooda and Surjeet. Surjeet is a very good right-corner defender and once we fix this problems, we will start winning matches.
You play U Mumba next, who are also missing a lot of players. Do you think this is the best chance to beat them?
PC: I wouldn’t think so. Under-estimating a side like U Mumba would be foolish. Their bench strength is excellent and even those players who are usually substitutes play very well. Of course we will profit from Anup Kumar, Shabeer Bapu and their two corners not being there, but there are no easy games against U Mumba.
What is your take on Manjeet Chhillar’s captaincy?
PC: I think Manjeet is a great player and also a great leader. He guides everyone really well but, he needs to develop a stronger match temperament. Sometimes the team is too calm while otherwise it is too explosive. He needs to learn to control that better. It will make him a real top player.
You joined Puneri Paltan this season. What were your thoughts behind joining the Puneri Paltan?
PC: I finished my two-year contract with Jaipur Pink Panthers at the end of last season. I had many offers from various teams, but when Coach Ashok Shinde, who is also my coach at Air India, called me, I said I couldn’t say no to you. Apart from that, it is a great feeling of pride for me to represent a team from Maharashtra.
Lastly, how did you like the fans’ support today?
PC: The fans are extremely supportive. I feel it is due to their support that we have managed to draw two games. They have really motivated us and the fans will be the reason why we will win the remaining two matches.Published 13 Feb 2016, 18:33 IST