Naveen Kumar admits mistakes were committed in the raiding and the defending department.

Basement dwellers Ravi Shetty’s Patna Pirates shocked leaders Dabang Delhi, after trailing by 8 points at half-time in PKL 9. Rohit Gulia and the Patna defence began the second half with purpose and intent, and despite Naveen Kumar trying everything he could, Dabang Delhi’s unbeaten run was snapped by the unlikeliest of opponents. Rohit Gulia and Naveen Kumar ended with 13 raid points each. Neeraj Kumar returned to form with 4 tackle points. Here are the quotes from the post-match press conferences.

Patna Pirates: Coach Ravi Shetty and captain Neeraj Kumar

How does it feel to finally taste victory?

PKL Season 9 started off in disastrous fashion for Patna as they proceeded to lose their first five matches on the trot. Coach Ravi Shetty was confident of his team’s chances and said, “It is good because we bounced back. We started now and definitely we are going to qualify. In the second half, I told the team to control the timing and the pace, and to take the game long by cutting the speed.”

How the rut was stopped

In the repeat of the season 8 finals, Patna finally found the form they showed throughout the majority of last season. Coach Ravi Shetty agreed that luck also played a role in this win, “Sometimes we coordinate and plan but we are not successful. Luck also favoured us. We finally got a win in the Bengaluru leg and our journey has just started now. We took it as a challenge to defeat the top team and this gave us confidence. I used this as a motivating factor. We were waiting for one win, and we will continue playing like this. The crowd supported us and that helped the players. The Bengaluru crowd backed us despite our defeats, and they are the reason for our victory.”

Neeraj’s solid outing

Captain Neeraj Kumar was a rock in the Patna defence, pouncing with precise timing and executing his trademark front blocks. On the preparations for this game Neeraj said, “Today they had a lot of right raiders and we wanted to prevent the bonuses from our strong right side. 7–8-point lead in this sport is nothing and we managed to get them all out with ease, we did not look to put in advanced tackles.”

Rohit Gulia’s raid fest

Rohit Gulia is raiding like a man transformed in PKL 9 season as is racking up the points by the bucketful. He managed 13 raid points against the strong Delhi defence. Coach Ravi Shetty said, “Last season Rohit’s self-confidence was very low and that was evident in our camp also. But with our training and motivation, we have prepared him. He has lost some weight and thus picked up speed.”

Dabang Delhi: Coach Krishan Kumar and Naveen Kumar

How big a blow is it to lose to the bottom team?

After soaring to the top of the table with five straight wins, defending champions Dabang Delhi almost proved to be invincible but were humbled by the Pirates. Coach Krishan Kumar said, “This is Kabaddi. Overconfidence is a big factor, and a lot of our players were overconfident today. The league is long, and we will look to return to our earlier form. The defence kept repeating their mistakes.”

Naveen Kumar’s sixth straight Super 10

Naveen Express has proven his consistency with a sixth straight Super 10, ending with 13 against Patna Pirates. On his long stint on the bench, Naveen Kumar said, “We plan on the basis of the main players. There were some mistakes in defence and raiding. We did not back the coach’s plan. Small mistakes can cost the match and that happened tonight. The form of some players go up and down and I expected a tight encounter. They are a very good team.”

Dabang Delhi play Bengal Warriors on Wednesday, Patna Pirates face off against Bengaluru Bulls in PKL 9.

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