Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: "Super Tackle on Ajay Thakur was the turning point", says Thalaivas coach K. Baskaran
Another narrow loss left coach Baskaran hoping for a change in fortunes
It was to prove another fruitless night for the Tamil Thalaivas who lost their third game in a row here in Chennai, going down 30-33 to U Mumba. As has been the script for many a match this season, the Thalaivas were in this contest, neck and neck right until the end where Mumba created just enough of a gap.
Coach K. Baskaran was left looking for answers at his team's inability to get results in the bag.“You guys saw the match, we can't criticize the players today”, he said.
“But, I'm saying this for the second time, we need a bit of luck. The players are putting in 100% hardwork and they are doing everything that is asked of them, but the luck is not going our way in certain situations. Somewhere we seem to be making errors and we will definitely rectify it. We have been losing lot of close matches. We still have six matches to go. If we win them all, we can make the playoffs. I still have that belief”, added the Thalaivas’ coach.
After suffering an All Out inside the first 10 minutes and trailing 6-13, the Thalaivas came storming back to inflict an All Out of their own before half-time. It meant just a one-point deficit at the break as they trailed 17-18. Their captain and lead raider, Ajay Thakur, was going great once more and it looked like the Thalaivas might ride their momentum to a win. Ajay's performance though tailed off slightly in the second, and on a couple of crucial raids down the stretch, the match went away from the home side.
At 26-27 with four minutes to go, having reduced Mumba to three men, the Thalaivas sensed an All Out, but Ajay fell prey to a Super Tackle that pushed the score to 26-29. He was revived quickly enough, but on his next raid facing the very same situation, Ajay got Super Tackled yet again. Neither of them were Do or Die raids and those four points ultimately proved costly for the Thalaivas.
“100% it was the turning point for them”, said coach Baskaran.
“Last time as well, Ajay Thakur did the same play and it turned out to be successful, against Gujarat Fortune giants. Today we couldn't quite get it because they had three men. Even if they took a bonus, we were having success with our raiding. Prapanjan also had good success today. Ajay and Lee were also successful. But Ajay unfortunately, probably was a little rash with the raid, because of which he wasn't successful”, he went on to add.
When quizzed on if in hindsight he thought he could have done anything differently, Baskaran replied in the negative, but did mention an area of improvement.
“We did everything correctly - who to send when, what instructions to give, how many points we expect from each person, how many raids a player would take. If you ask me what was the one thing that didn't work today, and which probably hasn't worked till now, is the targeting, how and where they stand. That and how to attempt the touch points. So far, we haven't been entirely successful in this regard; there's been only one match where it clearly clicked. If these things happen, it would be really good”, Baskaran said.
He also spoke about the back-to-back nature of the matches in a home leg came with its set of disadvantages and highlighted a concern as well.
“We are not getting time to practice. If we are to practice, we have to practice on the mat which is available only here at the Nehru stadium. It is difficult to get it easily here. As we are having back-to-back matches, we are unable to focus on strategies. Tomorrow we have a break; in that we will aim to perfect our strategies and hopefully the players will take it all in. It would be good if we could get one hour of practice time on the mat everyday”, he exclaimed.
Mumba's coach, E Bhaskaran, was meanwhile rightfully delighted with the win as it helped his side's chances in their uphill battle to get into the top three in Zone A.
“Very important for us to win this match. It gives us a chance to make the playoffs by winning the remaining matches. We played well. We made some mistakes in between, but then we did well in the end”, a relieved Bhaskaran mentioned.
He did reserve some praise for the home side who in his eyes displayed a lot of gumption.
“The Tamil Thalaivas played very well. I want to congratulate them for that. Their team is made up of mostly youngsters and they play with a lot of energy. Maybe right now, they haven't succeeded much, but in future I believe they will become very good players and play very well”, added the Mumba coach.
He too alluded to the Super Tackles late in the game. Though down to three men, in Kuldeep Singh, Joginder Narwal and Hadi Oshtorak, Mumba had three out-and-out defenders on the mat, a key factor in those Super Tackles. “The Super Tackles which they made - all three of them were experienced players, Joginder, Kuldeep and Hadi. The Super Tackles were very helpful in getting us the win. If the raider had escaped in that situation, it may have become difficult, especially since Kashi was also out for some time”, revealed Bhaskaran.
Kashiling Adake, who has been in a rich vein of form in the last month, looked good once again before being forced out with injury. But, he returned late in the game for a crucial 2-point raid, which along with the two Super Tackles sealed the deal for the visitors.
Bhaskaran spoke about how the injury was actually a worry for the side saying, “Kashi injured his knee. There was a chance it could have become serious had we kept him on. We have more matches ahead, so that's why we kept him out for some time. But he made a very good comeback and his raid in the second half was a huge turning point for us.”
Mumba do not have any more games to play in the Chennai leg. The home team will resume its quest for a first win against Rahul Chaudhari and the Telugu Titans on Tuesday.