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Steelers remain hopeful of a playoff spot as Jaipur clash awaits

Coach Khokhar Calls For Senior Players to Step Up As The League Inches Towards Playoffs

Ranchi, Jharkhand: Haryana Steelers Coach Ranbir Singh Khokhar said the senior players from his side will have to step up and make each performance count as the team gets ready to face the Jaipur Pink Panthers at the Harivansh Tana Bhagat Indoor Stadium, in Ranchi - their second match against Manjeet Chillar's side, on Thursday. The Steelers, who were handed a twelve-point loss by the Puneri Paltan yesterday are currently placed second on the Zone A standings with 49 points in 16 games.

Reflecting on the loss against Pune, Coach Khokhar ruled out inexperience as an excuse. “The performances of our young players especially the defenders have given the seniors a lot to think about. (During yesterday's match) They were able to keep Deepak Hooda quiet for the majority of the game. The plans we made against their raiders worked well but our more experienced raiders did not fire. They were unable to execute the strategies we made. Our junior players did exceptionally well, if only he seniors would have performed, we would have had a much better result." he said.

Jaipur Pink Panthers, who have played five games lesser than Steelers are placed fifth in Zone A, and are heading into the contest after an eleven-point victory over Dabang Delhi Kabaddi Club at Ranchi.  Speaking about their last encounter in Sonepat where the Steelers held Jaipur to a 27 point stalemate, Khokhar said "We are going for a win tomorrow. During our last game, we stetted for a tie because of one crucial error towards the end but this time we will leave nothing to chance and will start building momentum right from the beginning."

Haryana Steelers who have played the most number of matches in their zone will look to consolidate a position at the top of the table in order to make it to the playoffs. Confident of making it to the playoffs, Khokhar said, "We may not have had the best of outings of late, but in a game one has to win and the other has to lose - we can't hold onto those results. We have 6 games to go now and we will qualify if we win three to four matches. That's why our focus is on the next few games against Jaipur and Delhi which are extremely important.

The Steelers, who were without the services of their star defenders Surender Nada and Mohit Chhillar will look to bounce back as the corner-duo get set to re-join the team. "Mohit and Surender are fit now and are raring to go. In their absence, young Kuldeep and Vikas also delivered, so we were not exactly depleted. But once they're back, it will only add to our advantage for the upcoming games.

The match begins at 8 pm and will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports HD 2, Star Sports First and HotStar.