Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: Pune are second best side in the league, says Gujarat Fortunegiants coach Manpreet Singh
Friday's first Pro Kabaddi League matchup was a battle between two elite teams who've dominated for large parts of the tournament. Both Gujarat Fortunegiants and Puneri Paltan headed into this encounter having already secured their playoff berths.
But tonight's clash was no dead rubber. In fact, both teams had everything to play for. Playing on Pune's home turf, Gujarat sent across a stern statement, starting the game in fine fashion. They took an early 15-6 lead courtesy some ruthless defending.
Sukesh Hegde's monster 6 point raid put further distance between the two teams. Up against four Pune defenders, Gujarat's out of form captain executed a stunning raid, powering past all four players with a mind-boggling dive.
The stadium went eerily silent, stunned by what they had just seen. The visitors eventually won the match 44-20, having looked menacing all night long. Post the game, Gujarat coach, Manpreet Singh was delighted with Sukesh's performance and spoke about the reason behind Hegde's outstanding display.
"Previously, Sukesh used to play with a lot of pressure because he was the captain of the side. I had to bench him for a couple of matches and make him realize that he is a great player. Today he showed what he can do. I had asked him to score a super 20 but he managed 15. He will try again in the next match," he said.
Singh revealed that he had planned something prior to the match which worked wonders. He had a feeling Sukesh would bring his A-game tonight and as a result had asked Sachin to lay low and execute only empty raids.
"Pune had planned everything against Sachin and Sukesh's form came as a surprise to them. Our man in form, Sachin was scoring empty raids while Sukesh led from the front. This was our plan for tonight and it worked," he explained.
While the Fortunegiants did beat Pune a couple of times before tonight, Friday's performance came as a surprise given the massive margin by which they managed to win the game. Manpreet believes nobody can stop Gujarat on current form.
"After Gujarat, Pune is the second best team in the league, they have played well. But we had beaten them before as well, that too by a good margin. We not only wanted to beat them tonight, but wanted to dominate them. I always believed in all my players," he signed off.