ATK head coach Antonio Habas on Thursday urged his players to step up and perform to the level where home fans are forced to come to the stands and watch them play, ahead of the team’s first home game against newbies Hyderabad FC here on Friday.
Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK lost 1-2 to Kerala Blasters in Kochi on the very first day of ISL Season 6.
Carl McHugh had put ATK ahead with an absolute stunner in the sixth minute but the hosts, egged on by a vociferous crowd, hit back with two goals from new signing Bartholomew Ogbeche in the first half itself.
Habas had rued the missed opportunities after the game.
Playing at the Salt Lake Stadium now, the Spaniard has said his team has a lot of new faces and it will take time for them to find the right balance. But Habas has maintained that for fans to throng the 65,000 capacity stadium, the team needs to play a good brand of football.
“We need the support of the fans. I think we have to transmit the energy from the pitch for the fans. I don’t want to tell the fans to come support support and support. I think first the players on the pitch must perform well to win over the fans,” Habas said on the eve of the match.
“I think maybe we need more balance in the team. We need to improve with the players. We have seven new players in the team and it’s very difficult to create the perfect balance with a new side. We had many opportunities to score goals. We didn’t deserve to lose the match. But now we have to think about the match ahead,” he said.
ATK’s star player this time is Fijian captain Roy Krishna who was the top scorer in the A-League last season, and the city outfit would hope he fires on Friday in front of the home crowd. ATK don’t have any injuries for the Hyderabad clash.
Habas was also asked about the lesser number of foreigners in the league, and he said: “I feel it’s necessary for the growth of Indian Football. Every season you need to know more for the Indian players. You must give opportunities to Indian players. It’s necessary for the development of the Indian national team and for the growth of Indian football.”
Under Habas, who is back at the club for a second stint, ATK are looking to get back to where they were under the Spaniard.
Under him, then Atletico de Kolkata won the inaugural title in 2014 and made the last-four the following year.
Former Spanish international goalkeeper Jose Molina then took over the reins in the third season and the Kolkata franchise put up a dominant display to win their second title — a record they jointly hold with Chennaiyin FC in the five-year-old history of the league.
But since ATK severed ties with Atletico Madrid who looked after the technical affairs, their performances deteriorated sharply as they finished ninth and sixth in the last two editions.
Dissecting the reasons behind where India lost the ODI series
India had started their tour of South Africa on a bright note, winning the Centurion Test by 113 runs. But after that, South Africa came back to win the next two Tests and take the series 2-1. One expected that with the ODI series, there will be a change in results.
But the same script followed as India were blanked 3-0 by South Africa in the ODIs. Playing ODIs for the first time after July 2021 (for first-choice players, after March 2021), India were rusty and looked out of sorts in the 50-over matches. We dissect the reasons behind India’s 3-0 loss in the ODIs against South Africa:
Batting returns not up to the mark
A quick glance at the batting cards of both teams will show the difference between South Africa and India. Three of the four highest run-scorers in the series were all from the hosts. Quinton de Kock topped the chart with 229 runs at an average of 76.33 and strike rate of 96.62 with a hundred and a fifty, Rassie van der Dussen at number two with 218 runs with a whopping average of 218.00 (was unbeaten twice in the series) and strike rate of 112.95 with a hundred and fifty as well.
Skipper Temba Bavuma made 153 runs at an average of 51 and strike rate of 80.10, including a century in the first match.
For India, Shikhar Dhawan was their top run-getter in the series, sandwiched between van der Dussen and Bavuma, making 169 runs at an average of 56.33 and strike rate of 86.66, with just two fifties.
India’s batters failed to aggregate 200 runs in the series. Moreover, no Indian batter got to the three-figure mark. While Dhawan and Kohli gave starts but were unable to make it big, the middle-order failed to stand up to the occasion and India’s batting lost the plot from there.
With the ODI series against West Indies at home in February, India will be hoping to fix the glitches in batting.
Middle overs muddle
It is no denying that India has a middle overs problem in batting, which was clearly illustrated in the ODIs against South Africa. In the first ODI, compared to South Africa’s 171/2 in that stage, India were 148/6, unable to stop the wickets from falling and thus weren’t able to make as many runs as they would have liked.
The script repeated when India batted first in the second ODI, making 160/5 in the middle overs phase. Then the script again repeated itself when chasing 288 on Sunday, India could muster 160/5 in the middle overs. Also, in terms of partnership, South Africa had at least a three-figure stand in every match of the series, something India did only once (in the second ODI).
Much was expected of Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin and Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg-spin against South Africa. But they couldn’t put up a good show as South Africa’s spinners outplayed them. In a complete reversal of 2018, where Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav bamboozled the South Africa batters, here the Proteas’ spinners were getting the better of India’s batters.
Overall, the troika of Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markram took nine wickets in 65 overs while conceding 218 runs. On the other hand, combining Ashwin, Chahal, Jayant Yadav and Shreyas Iyer’s numbers, India had just three wickets from spin in 32.1 overs while conceding 343 runs. In terms of pace, South Africa took 15 wickets while their Indian counterparts could get ten wickets. Clearly, the spin attack didn’t do wonders for India.
PKL 8: Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 38-26
Raider Sachin scored 10 points as three-time champions Patna Pirates defeated Puneri Paltan 38-26 in Match 17 of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, on Tuesday. Sachin scored a Super 10 (10 points) and was ably supported by Patna’s defensive trio of Sunil (4 points), Mohammadreza Chiyaneh (3 points), and Sajin C (3 points). The lack of a quality raider despite promising performances from youngsters will be a cause of concern for the Puneri Paltan who succumbed to their second loss in three matches.
All eyes were once again on Pune’s Rahul Chaudhari but the showman, despite starting the match, was substituted for young Mohit Goyat by coach Anup Kumar in the first half. The trio of raiders including Aslam Inamdar and Pankaj Mohite caused problems for the Patna defence while at the other end Prashant Kumar Rai and Sachin were equally effective.
Patna were facing the risk of an all-out with six minutes left to half-time, but their defender Sajin C completed a Super Tackle to turn the momentum. The three-time champions got lucky later when Monu Goyat entered the lobby without contact, in a do-or-die raid only to be followed by three Pune defenders who had been deceived by his actions. The first half ended 14-14 with Pune having just two men on the mat.
Pune coach Anup Kumar clearly expected from his set of raiders and brought in Shubham Shelke for Pankaj Mohite in the second half. But Patna kept fighting back, thanks to the largely confident tackles from the likes of Mohammadreza Chiyaneh and Sajin. With 10 minutes remaining, Patna had a four-point lead and that was extended a’ Pune’s plan to play on the Do-or-Die raid backfired. Sachin scored two points in the crucial raid for Patna to inspire another ALL OUT in the 13th minute and open a 10-point lead.
Patna maintained the momentum and though Sunil and Vishal Bharadwaj picked up yellow cards in the final minutes as the match became intense the three-time champions ensured there was no late comeback by Pune and clinched an important win.
PKL 8: Bengal Warriors beat Gujarat Giants
Bengal Warriors defeated Gujarat Giants 31-28 on Day 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 held at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, here on Friday. This was Bengal Warriors’ second win in as many matches while Gujarat Gaints have one win and one loss. The Warriors have 10 points the same as Dabang Delhi but are placed second on a lower points-difference while Gujarat have six points.
Bengal Warriors started well and established a slender lead (16-11) against Gujarat Giants at half-time. They maintained their advantage despite the valiant efforts of the Gujarat Giants, managed to register a narrow victory.
Maninder Singh was the top scorer for Bengal Warriors with eight points while Esmaeil Nabibakhsh contributed four points.
Bengal Warriors won 18 raid points as against 19 by Gujarat Giants. But it was in defence that they scored, claiming 10 points as against eight by their rivals. They bagged two all-outs as against none by the Giants.
Rakesh Narwal was the top scorer for Gujarat Giants with 12 points while Rakesh Sungroya contributed four points.
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