Puneri Paltan skipper Surjeet Singh, while admitting the team’s inability to close games, said that they fail to execute their plan in the last few minutes and end up giving away points. Pune tied their last night’s game against Tamil Thalaivas 36-36 despite leading for the majority of the match.
As Puneri Paltan tied their third home game, they have got a step farther from reaching the top six. They started slow but gained momentum through Pankaj Mohite’s three-point super raid which led to Tamil Thalaivas’ all-out. They managed to hold that momentum as they finished the first half with a score of 18-12. They had an eight-point lead when they were only one-man standing in the opposition but their continuous mistakes in defence helped Thalaivas in saving themselves from all-out situation five times.
“We haven’t been able to execute our plan in the closing stages of the matches. Some poor tackles from our side have been our downfall in such close encounters,” captain Surjeet Singh said in the post-match press conference.
Pune's defenders made as many as 19 unsuccessful tackle attempts. Their top scorer, Amit Kumar, Surjeet Singh and Girish Ernak, scored three tackle points each with 11 unsuccessful tackles between them.
“They have raiders who try to look for bonuses. So, we had planned to attack them every time they attempted a bonus,” the 29-year-old skipper said when asked if it was defence's plan to hold a high line.
Pune were in lead for the majority of the match and relaxed around the end and so Ajith took advantage of this and reduced them to one player for the last raid. Ajith scored his career’s highest points till now which is 18 points in 19 raid attempts.
“He had a good outing, but we gave up too many easy points when we had them pegged them down to one. Had we gotten an All Out then, our lead would have been sustainably bigger and we would have had a much easier task at the backend of the match,” the Pune skipper appreciated Ajith.
If the player was not able to cross the walk-line or got out then Thalaivas would have tied as they were only three points behind and they had the last man standing. This is exactly what happened as Nitin Tomar, the last man standing, got caught in an ankle-hold by none other than Rahul Chaudhari which helped Thalaivas tie the game.
“Nitin (Tomar) had planned to attack in the final 15 seconds. I'm not sure what happened there,” Singh said about the last raid.
Despite Manjeet and Pankaj Mohite's joint effort, Pune failed to win the match because of their defence. Manjeet scored a Super 10 while Mohite scored eight points and it all went in vain.
“Manjeet and Pankaj (Mohite) have grown as the season has progressed. They are well-settled and comfortable now and are delivering strong performances for us,” the skipper concluded.