Jaipur Pink Panthers coach is hopeful that history will repeat itself on the 17th of December.

Jaipur Pink Panthers hammered Randhir Singh Sehrawat’s Bengaluru Bulls 49-29 in the semi-final of the PKL 9, thereby booking their spot in the finals for just the third time. Ajith Kumar scored 13 raid points, while right corner Sahul managed a whopping 10 tackle points. Reza and Ankush both scored High 5s. Here is what the captains, coaches and star performers from both teams had to say in the post-match press conference.

Bengaluru Bulls

What went wrong

The Bulls have rarely been given a hiding of this magnitude. The added expectation of a semi-final proved to be too much of a burden. For the last three seasons, the Bulls have bowed out in the semi-final stage but Randhir Singh outlined the positives from his team and the league in general. First, coach Randhir Singh Sehrawat spoke about what did not work.

“To tell the truth, I told the lads in the last 10 minutes that there is still a chance. But they avoided scoring points when it was most necessary. The moment they become overconfident; the match slips out of our hands. Today both offence and defence did not work. We played like Telugu Titans. I focussed my strategy on Arjun, Sunil and Ankush but Ajith and Sahul played very well. Everything failed today. We are in the semi-finals for the sixth season, but the reaction never came.”

Mahender added, “In the matches we made a comeback, the raiders got us points and our defence came good.”

Season review

After losing Pawan Sehrawat in the auctions for PKL 9, a lot was spoken of the Bulls and if they could sustain their mentality. After all, Pawan was a talisman who steered the team to the trophy in season 6. Coach Randhir had harsh words for the experts but praised his current team and said, “I am overall very happy as we always end up silencing the experts that make our morale down. Nobody knew who Saurabh Nandal is, who Bharat is. They focus only on stars. New players are becoming stars. It is good for the sport of Kabaddi.

Sanjeev, their coach, is my student. Sunil was the architect behind their tactics. People fear the Bengaluru Bulls. In my nine seasons as a coach, I haven’t had a team as good as this. Season 9 was very tough but good. It is good for the future of the sport. The Asian Games are coming up and it is time to unite as a nation and back our players.”

A word on Bharat

In just his second season, Bharat managed 279 raid points and exceeded his coach’s expectations. Randhir Singh Sehrawat spoke of his go-to man, “I keep a record of my players. No player in just their second season has scored 280 raid points. Bharat is the first. Pawan took four seasons, and Pardeep took three seasons. He is the first NYP to do this. The record speaks for itself.”

Jaipur Pink Panthers

Will history repeat itself at the NSCI?

The NSCI has been a happy hunting ground for Jaipur in PKL 9. They emerged champions of the inaugural season, beating U Mumba 35-24 at the Dome. Coach Upendra Kumar said, “The team has functioned very well. I am delighted with all the players and the management. There is a lot of work still left ahead of the finals.”

Tactics to tame the Bulls

To keep the Bulls in check is no mean feat, particularly when they are coming off a dominating win against Dabang Delhi in the eliminator. But Sunil Kumar led his troops from the front and said, “ Today we held Arjun back and have Ajith a chance and he did not disappoint. Sahul made several catches too. I never expected the match to be one-sided.” Sahul added, “They had good raiders and the coach trained me well about their movements. Sunil told me to be aggressive and I am happy that we pulled this off.

Upendra Kumar talked about the Bulls’ affinity for comebacks, “Bulls surprise everyone with their comebacks so we kept our focus high till the end. They have game-changing players but we controlled everyone.”

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