The revamped and refurbished Kabaddi World Cup had a grand finale in Ahmedabad on Saturday night, after a thrilling final that saw hosts India produce top class kabaddi to overcome Iran 38-29. Far from the four-day subdued affairs that the previous Kabaddi World Cups used to be, the 2016 edition was a new 16-day extravaganza.
However, some things never change, and India’s kabaddi supremacy is certainly one of these. Anup Kumar’s side, considered overwhelming favourites to lift their third World Cup, did so in emphatic fashion. However, doing so against an Iran side that played the match of their lifetimes has an astonishing feel about it. Anup, at his wily best, led India from 21-20 at the 30-minute mark to an eventual 38-29, earning him the biggest title of his life. He got most of the above things right, discreetly controlling the match and making his in-form raider Ajay Thakur the star of the show.
Despite facing such a daunting task, the Iranians did their bit and gave more than 100 percent, for which they deserve all the credit in the world. Iran’sams of lifting their maiden World Cup were as much dependent on India having an off day as on their players playing out of their skin. The superior technique of the Indians meant that Iran’s best foot forward may not have been enough.
India were in the lead at the 30-minute mark, but more importantly, they had momentum and crowd support after having trailed Iran 13-19 in a tough first half where the physically stronger Iranians overpowered the finest of our men, including Manjeet Chhillar.
In the final 10 minutes, Anup ticked most of the boxes and emerged victorious. With his trusted weapon Pardeep Narwal not firing, he sent in fresher legs in the form of Rahul Chaudhari and Nitin Tomar to raid and while they were at it, he wouldn’t stop talking to his boys or while returning from his own raid. He used India’s review opportunity too, although unsuccessfully. That the desperate Iranians, many of whom had tasted last-minute defeat at the hands of these very men at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, began to make errors only helped India.