Pune: With five teams already having secured their berths in the super playoffs, Pune leg will be all about securing No. 1 position on points table, which starts at Balewadi Sports Complex, badminton hall on Friday.
With six matches to play, home team Puneri Paltan have a great opportunity to end the league stage as table toppers in Zone A.
“If we take top position, it gives us an advantage and two opportunities of qualifying for the final. If by chance we lose the first qualifier, then we have a second chance in qualifier two to get into the final,” said Deepak Hooda, captain of Puneri Paltan, to Sakal Times.
From Zone A, Gujarat Fortunegiants, Haryana Steelers and Puneri Paltan have sealed their spots in the playoffs while Bengal Warriors and Patna Pirates from Zone B have booked their berth for the next round.
Pune, which is coming from six victories in last seven matches will face Gujarat Fortunegiants in the first match in their den.
“Match against Gujarat is very important. If we win this match, then we have a great chance of getting on top of the table.”
“Pune and Gujarat are teams of equal strengths. Whichever team makes early mistakes will have a loose grip on the match. It becomes very important that we come out with our best performance,” added Hooda.
Gujarat had beaten Pune 35-21 in the Lucknow leg when both teams met for the first time in Season 5. Their defenders Fazal Atrachali and Abzor Mighani gave Pune raiders tough time on the mat.
“Both the Irani players are doing good in the corner but their left and right cover Parvesh Bhainswal and Sunil Kumar are the best cover pair in India at the moment. Our raiders should take care of them as well,” said BC Ramesh, coach of Puneri Paltan.
“The last time we played Gujarat, we fell short by some points and their raiders also did a great job. We have studied their videos and now we will not repeat the mistakes we did earlier,” added Ramesh.
Gujarat, which has impressed one and all with their all-round performance, has earned 77 points with 13 victories, and three tied games.
“They (Gujarat) have good players. Our players are also doing good. At many times, things are also dependent on match situation and it makes a difference on how the team performs,” added Hooda.