Pro Kabaddi 2017 Final: Patna Pirates' coach reveals tactical advice that helped Pardeep Narwal destroy Gujarat Fortuneginats defence
You don't question the heart of a champion. That's what the Patna Pirates, the 2-time defending champions of Pro Kabaddi, proved on Saturday evening as they celebrated a hat-trick of titles by winning the championship yet again, beating the Gujarat Fortunegiants in the final of Season 5 in Chennai.
The Pirates had tasted defeat against the Fortunegiants in both their encounters in the league phase, but the champs managed to flip the script in the final through a combination of Gujarat's errors and some brilliance of their own to win 55-38.
Pardeep Narwal, the superstar of Pro Kabaddi, who had been kept to just eight points total in the two previous encounters against Gujarat exploded on the grand stage with 19 points in the final and enjoyed success that had previously not been forthcoming against this opponent.
When asked what he changed to achieve this result, Pardeep replied, "Coach told me that I have to start the raids from the back. Their defence was the same, I don't think it changed much. Our instruction was not to spend too much time in the corners."
Pirates coach Ram Mehar Singh also chimed in on the subject. "Our strategy was to not target their corners, but to start from the centre. In our previous matches with them, Pardeep was getting caught in the corners. I told them to not think about winning or losing, but to just concentrate on staying on the mat and how to take advantage of a situation", said Singh.
Singh also stressed on the importance of Monu Goyat to their side, who rebounded beautifully with a 9-point game from 15 attempts, getting captured just twice, after having been quiet against the Bengal Warriors on Thursday.
"You can look at all the matches this season. In the games in which Pardeep has got caught early or has made some mistakes and gotten out, Monu has revived him. So Monu is a very important asset for our team. Whenever Pardeep is on the bench or there is any mistake from the defence, Monu comes in and rescues the team. Monu played very well today. He scored points, picked up good bonus points too. One of their main defenders in Abozar, he got him out twice", said Singh praising his number two raider.
The Patna defence, which has had it's fair share of criticism for letting the side down in encounters this season, has also came to the party in this crucial game, outshining their counterparts picking up 13 points to just 5 from the Fortunegiants. Singh was keen to point out their contribution.
"Our defence was good today. Yes, they made some mistakes, but who doesn't in a final like this. But they too helped us a lot today especially in some situations in the second half whenever the raiders were on the bench", Singh mentioned.
Monu Goyat, who was also present with his coach and captain at the press conference, spoke about the planning ahead of the game as well.
"We were told to keep their corners under pressure because in previous matches we were going to the corners a lot. So this time our planning was to attack the 2 & 3 (cover defenders) and that's what I did and we were successful", said Monu.
Though the Pirates eventually won by 17 points, it was the Fortunegiants that started the brighter. Despite a 2-point raid from Monu to open the scoring for Patna, Gujarat quickly regained the initiative with Rakesh Narwal's 3-point raid. They rode that momentum to inflict the first All Out of the match, the Pirates bundled out in under four minutes.
But despite that early setback, the Pirates regained their composure to strike back and effect an All Out of their own on the Fortunegiants and take a 21-18 lead into the half-time interval. Coach Singh revealed he was a bit worried early on.
"See, in both the first and second raid we got points. But what happened was our defender put in an advance tackle and we gave away 3 points. We got All Out and I too got a bit tensed thinking that if Monu and Pardeep were to get caught few more times, forget winning, the match would have become one-sided", Singh said.
Pardeep Narwal picked up a massive 5-point raid with six minutes to go in the first half when he got all three Gujarat men on the mat out plus two points for the All Out. That brought the Pirates storming back and levelled the score at 15-15 and Singh felt that was one of many turning points.
"Turning point was Pardeep’s 5-point raid. We again got five points later. Let's not forget Monu who got us the early points, because I would say that they (Gujarat) were the best team in the league", Patna's coach said.
He also spoke about with what mentality he set his players up for this high-stakes game.
"Their raiders are also good; if you look at their average they have been good. And their defence was, of course, very strong. So which is why there was some tension for us, that both their departments are good. Just that our raiders were a little superior to theirs and their defence was superior to ours. Which is why there was no such thing as we'll definitely win the match. Anything can happen in a match, we can't say.
"Today, the situation was different. It was a final, we were going for a hat-trick. I told Pardeep that if we lose, okay we lose. But don't ever have in your mind that you will get caught or overthink anything too much. Decide, do or die. If you have the opportunity, go for it. Just don't go to the areas where you have been caught before in the earlier matches", the Patna coach summed up.
Chennai has played host to Pro Kabaddi for the first time this season with a team from the region coming into the league. However, on Saturday, the crowd was loud and vocal in their support of the superstar himself, Pardeep Narwal. Singh said his side used it as motivation.
"Also when we came out, we saw the crowd. I felt 99% of the public wanted Patna to win. That also boosted our confidence. That's what I told Pardeep that all these people have come to watch you, it's a fact. They've come to see what you will do. That boosted his confidence too. I believe even you guys (media), whether you accept it or not, wanted us to win. That's the truth I feel", a smiling Singh said.
The rivalry between the Pirates and the Fortunegiants has been simmering all season and Singh, as he had promised to do after the final on Thursday, had some choice words for his Gujarat counterpart Manpreet Singh in an explosive rant, saying that he had become too arrogant and overconfident which led to his side's demise ultimately in the final. You can read the full length of what Singh had to say here.
The Pirates played their home matches in Ranchi this season instead of Patna, but the coach said that they would go to both cities to celebrate with the trophy.
"We will go to Ranchi and we will to go to Patna too."