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Pro Kabaddi Season 4: Patna Pirates coach Arjun Singh's tactic of Rajesh Mondal as do-or-die raider caught Mumbai off-guard

967   //    17 Jul 2016, 13:38 IST
Rajesh Mondal U Mumba
Rajesh Mondal’s raid led Patna to yet another win

If the 2015 Star Sports Pro Kabaddi champions U Mumba had hoped to turn around their fortunes after losing the Jaipur leg match narrowly 34-36 to the defending champions Patna Pirates, they were in for a shock. Patna came storming out of the blocks at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday and never relinquished the lead, eventually posting a thunderous 34-24 win over the Anup Kumar-led team.

Their star raider Pardeep Narwal racked up four points but it was Rajesh Mondal’s superb attacks that fetched eight points and caught U Mumba by surprise.

It was this surprise factor that coach Arjun Singh talked about when the Pirates faced the media. It was a planned strategy to throw the former champions off their guard and it worked flawlessly.

“We knew that U Mumba would be focussing mostly on Pardeep Narwal. But we had changed our strategy and made Rajesh Mondal the do-or-die raider. And it paid off,” Singh said, adding, “Rajesh played brilliantly. His family member came to watch and he was eager to perform well.”

Obviously for a team to deliver such a thumping performance, it needs to flourish in all departments. The Pirates looked exceptionally stout even in their defense that was very tough to penetrate by the Mumbai raiders. Dharmaraj Cheralathan produced a captain’s knock and his grappling brought the team seven tackle points. They wanted to blunt the efforts of the leading Mumbai attackers such as Rishank Devadiga and were able to execute it perfectly.

“We wanted to ensure that the top U Mumba raiders like Anup Kumar and Rishank Devadiga stayed out for a long time. We were able to keep Rishank out for 14 minutes. I am happy with the show that the defenders put up,” Singh explained.

After having triumphed in seven out of nine matches, the current table-toppers Patna are almost through to the semi-finals and Singh said that they still have five matches to go and they are confident of making it through.

“There is no space for complacency”

Team manager Kartik Sansanwal, however, had a cautious approach.

On being prodded further if they ever felt complacent after being in such a comfortable position, he said: “Semi-finals are much, much far away from here. We just focus on one game at a time.

Five more important games to come…we definitely want to maintain what we are – the defending champions. We are just playing for it every game.”

“Team spirit the reason behind Patna’s success”

Patna Pirates have been a revelation from last season where they won 12 matches, losing two en route to winning the title for the first time. And this season too, they look unstoppable, ready to emulate their feat from Season 3.

Naturally, one wonders what the secret of such astounding success is.

To that question, Sansanwal answered: “Dharmaraj Cheralathan is a brilliant leader. He stayed on the mat today for almost 39 and a half minutes. He is rock solid in defense.

“So, he is an idol for all of us and we look up to him. Through him we have tried to maintain a team culture and a team spirit. Everyone should contribute and play their role as per the team requirement and not showcase their individual talents to the world.”

For a team with such credentials, their own bar of expectations should be set very high. Are their performances meeting it?

Arjun Singh tactfully avoided revealing that and simply said: “From the beginning of this season, our aim has been to successfully defend our title. Our team owner Rajesh Shah and our manager Kartik Sansanwal have lent their wholehearted support behind the team. We are working very hard to maintain our position.”

Every team singles out its most important rival who can give them a hard time. With 37 matches already over in this season, Patna must have identified their biggest threat. But once again, being the tactician that he is, Singh refused to divulge that to the media.

“Every team has a new look this time after the auctions. So it is difficult to single out a particular team as tough. Every team is at par with each other and the one who has the right combination on a given day, will come through with flying colours.”

For the moment, the Patna Pirates would like to have that right combination going for them so that they come through with flying colours once again when they take on the hosts Bengal Warriors tonight at 21:00 hours IST.

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A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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