India become world champions in Kabaddi, PM leads accolades
Ahmedabad: A brilliant second half performance saw India stage a memorable comeback as they beat Iran 38-29 in the title clash to lift the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup here tonight. In a match contested between two titans of the sport, India beat a resolute Iran side to become the world champions. Riding on a terrific performance by Ajay Thakur’s 12 points, India produced a strong comeback in the second half at the TransStadia Arena to send the packed crowd into raptures. The final was like a boxing bout as both teams traded punches and gave it as good as they got. India struck the early blows as Sandeep Narwal and Thakur scored raid points to lead 2-0 in the third minute. Meraj Sheykh scored Iran’s first point as they levelled the game at 2-2 in the fourth minute.
The match lived up to its expectations as both teams fought hard and refused to give an inch. Skipper Anup Kumar scored his trademark bonus point to level the scores at 6-6 in the 10th minute.
Meraj Sheykh scored with an excellent raid and reduced India to just three men as Iran led 9-7 in the 13th minute. India’s defence had a below par first 15 minutes as they scored just one tackle point. Iran reduced India to just two men but a brilliant super tackle by Mohit Chhillar the 16th minute to cut the lead to just one point again. Meraj Sheykh continued to be a thorn in the Indian defence but Nitin Tomar came up with a brilliant raid and scored two points in the 18th minute as India trailed 11-12. India were again reduced to just one man and Iran inflicted the first all out of the match in the 19th minute to lead 16-12. The first half belonged Iran’s defence as they did a brilliant job on Indian raiders as they led 18-13 at the end of the first half. Both Manjeet Chhillar and Pardeep Narwal scored zero points and their subdued performances hurt India’s chances.
Kenya were named the emerging team of the tournament as they won a lot of hearts and almost made it to the semi finals. Jang Kun Lee who had a superb tournament was named the Most Valuable Player of the World Cup. The best referee of the tournament award was given to SMA Mannan from Bangladesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the accolades for the Indian kabaddi team “Congratulations to Indian team for winning the Kabaddi World Cup. The team showed exceptional skills, grit & determination. Well done!” PM Modi wrote on his twitter handle.