Pro Kabaddi League 2017 final: Is the Patna Pirates defence as bad as it seems? Or is it just a myth?
On Thursday, Patna Pirates let a crucial lead in excess of ten points slip against Bengal Warriors, in what was essentially a semi final. While they started of in the best possible manner, complacency kicked in.
What initially looked like a routine victory, turned into a slug fest in the final few minutes of the match. The usually calm and collective, Pardeep Narwal too lost his cool and was extremely annoyed with the likes of Jawahar Dagar and Vijay.
Since season 5 began, Patna have always been an attack oriented outfit and there is little to suggest otherwise. While Narwal has essentially been a one man show, the likes of Monu Goyat and, at times, Vijay have chipped in with crucial raid points.
But it is their defence that has always been at the receiving end. Coach, Ram Mehar Singh has been extremely critical about his back line and has time and again accepted that the team largely pin their hopes on Narwal to perform.
Two of Patna's and probably the leagues most experienced cover defenders - Vishal Mane and Sachin Shingade - have been a shadow of their former selves this season. Both of them are not even among the top 20 defenders.
In fact, it has been the unheralded Jaideep who has risen and taken up responsibility in their absence. The young corner defender has 66 tackle points in 25 games, putting him fourth on the list.
On the surface, the picture seems very clear. Patna do not have a set of defenders who play as one cohesive unit. Narwal continues to hog the limelight and rightly so. Jaideep is doing his bit to give his star raider some breathing space.
But dig deeper, and you realize that Patna Pirates are not such a bad defensive unit as they're made out to be. As a team, only Gujarat Fortunegiants and Puneri Paltan have executed more successful tackles than them.
With an impressive 239 tackles in 25 matches, Patna's defence have silently gone about doing their job without the adulation. They've also made the third most number of successful tackles - 214. Once again, only Pune and Gujarat are ahead of them in terms of numbers.
On an average, Patna successfully execute 10 tackles in every match. It's an impressive statistic, given the fact that Pune, who are top on the list, execute 11 each game. At 28 - they've conceeded lesser all outs than the likes of U.P Yoddha.
It's worth pondering - are Patna Pirates as bad a defensive unit as they're made out to be? The numbers don't say so.