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Pro Kabaddi League | We tried to focus on our defence during auctions: Ram Mehar Singh

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Pro Kabaddi League | We tried to focus on our defence during auctions: Ram Mehar Singh

Patna Pirates coach Ram Mehar Singh has stated that the team management focussed on strengthening the team’s defence during the recently-concluded player auctions ahead of the seventh edition of the Pro Kabaddi League. Patna Pirates have bought experienced Surender Nada for the upcoming season.

After winning three consecutive PKL titles, Patna Pirates failed to reach the play-offs in the sixth edition of the PKL last year. They had finished fourth on the Zone B points table with a total of 55 points from 22 games. Although the team had a solid raiding unit led by Pardeep Narwal, it lacked some experience in the defence which many consider as the reason for their poor show during the league stage.

Meanwhile, with the signing of left corner Surender Nada in the fresh auctions, the defence of the Bihar-based team is bolstered. Coach Ram Mehar Singh clarified after the auctions that their focus was on the defenders while bidding for the players on the auction table. 

“Our auction went good this time. All the teams try to go for big players and they had their own requirements but all of them don’t get players as per their requirements. We tried to focus on the defence more this time and apart from a couple of players, we found players as per our liking. We tried to make a balanced team this year,” Ram Mehar Singh told exclusively to SportsCafe. 

“Surender Nada will find a place on the top five defenders of PKL. This is an important inclusion. He is an experienced player and has been a part of the league from the very first season.”

The coach expressed his happiness over getting some good foreign players into the team. The Patna team will have the services of Korean raider Jang Kun Lee who had previously played all his seasons for Bengal Warriors. Apart from that, Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou and Hadi Oshtorak, both from Iran, will also join the three-time league champions for the upcoming season. 

“Hadi Oshtorak and Esmail are two very good inclusions and both are good all-rounders from Iran. They can play at all positions. This will be a big plus point for the team,” explained the Patna coach.

“Jang Kun Lee is there, after Pardeep and there are 2-3 new players (in the raiding department) and we have faith on them. Lee has a very good reaction ability and flexibility which is unique to him. He has got good speed and fitness is better than many so we kept faith on him during the auctions.”

 Pardeep Narwal in action against Bengaluru Bulls during a PKL 6 match. © PKL

The Patna team was heavily dependent on Pardeep in the last edition in spite of the presence of raiders like Deepak Narwal and Manjeet. Apart from the skipper, no other player could contribute to the team’s success which led to their drop in the performance mid-way in the league last year. Although the team will not depend on him heavily this year because of some good signings, his performance will certainly affect the overall show of the Pirates in the seventh PKL. 

“If Pardeep goes out of the way and starts training then he can make the difference. He can even improve on his previous performances as well if he trains hard and trains in a different way. We need to be successful in bringing some changes in his training pattern and a lot will depend on that. That will give an opportunity to Pardeep and the Patna Pirates to better their performance from last seasons,” the experienced coach mentioned.

Patna is the most successful PKL side in the history of the league with three consecutive titles to their name. With the other three seasons being won by Jaipur, Mumbai and Bengaluru, not a single team has been the champions for two times. However, the two-time Asian Games gold medallist Ram Mehar has been of the opinion that the level of completion in  PKL is growing day by day and there are some very good talents coming up from the league.

“Every year there is something new happening in the league and this is important for the sport and the players. The level of the sport is growing day by day which is a great thing to happen since the inception of the league,” the Patna coach expressed.

“This is a new generation and if they focus on their game and they have that excitement with them, they can do well than other senior players. New players are coming up in each edition, take an example of Siddharth Desai. Next year we might just see another new player making a mark in the league. Vikash Khandola was also brilliant in the last edition.”

When asked about the chances of the Pirates in the upcoming PKL taking the team combination into consideration, Ram Mehar replied, “Training, how they play, their fitness, all these things will matter a lot as far as the results are concerned. Loss and win are a part of the sport. We can’t say a lot about that. We created history by winning three consecutive titles in the league. We have done something different in the league. We couldn’t make it in the last edition but will want to rectify our mistakes and play well in the next edition of the league and give our best this year.” 

Coach Ram Mehar has also informed that the team will have a training session in the next month keeping in mind the start of the season in July. However, they will go for a short break before starting their training in June again. With senior player Surender Nada, who was named the captain of Haryana Steelers last year but didn’t play after an injury in the first game, joining the team, it remains to be seen whether Pardeep will still continue being the captain for the 2019 edition of the league. 

“The league is yet to start and the camp hasn’t been organised as well. It is management’s decision and things will be clarified once the coaching session starts for the next edition. Captaincy is not an individual’s decision,” the Patna coach concluded. 

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