Asian Games: Iran Stun Seven-time Champions India in Kabaddi Semis — How The Unthinkable Happened
Indian captain Ajay Thakur sat shell shocked at the bench with a bandaged forehead, as he watched his team getting trounced by Iran.
File image of Indian Kabaddi Team. (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Indian captain Ajay Thakur sat shell shocked at the bench with a bandaged forehead, as he watched his team getting trounced by Iran. For the first time since 1990, which is when kabaddi was introduced at the Asian Games, the Indian team is going to return without the gold medal.
It took a gritty Iran to make the impossible possible, as they beat the seven time gold medallists 27-18 to march into the final where they will take on Korea. Incidentally, India’s only other loss of the tournament was against Korea, in which the defending champions got beaten 24-23.
Jersey holding, bleeding, and in the end dancing – it was all there to see as the invincible Indians were made to settle on bronze. So what really went wrong? Did the cloak of invincibility bring along with it a sense of complacency? Was the loss against Korea, albeit by a slender margin, not enough of a wake up call for India? While a hungry Iran’s defence looked superb, India’s raiders appeared slower than usual. 12 of Iran’s first 15 points on the board were thanks to their solid defence.
Indian kabaddi has seen a massive transformation over the last four years thanks to the popular Pro Kabaddi League. Ajay Thakur, Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat have become household names, and have encountered the kind of fame and financial windfall that the sport had never experienced before this. Interestingly, many of the players from the Iran side play in the same league, thus having a better knowledge of their opponents.
India perhaps relied way too much on its stars for the key game. It is ironic that this shock loss comes at a time when the sport has managed to achieve a profile like never before. A massive wake-up call indeed for India in what is essentially an Indian sport.
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