India won the 2016 Kabbadi world cup held in Ahmedabad after they were able to overcome a spirited Iranian team.
The Indian team went into the game as favorites but were stunned in the first half by the strong performance of the Iranian team. The first two points were scored by the Indians before the Iranians got the momentum back with a string of points that seemed to leave the Indians surprised.
What made the difference in favour of Iran in the first half was the impenetrable defence of the Iranian team that Indian raiders were unable to breach. Meraj Sheyk, the captain of the Iranian team, led from the front with brilliant defending. He was helped by his teammates and early in the game, even their leading raider Fazal Atrachalli superbly tackled Sandeep Narwal to send him to the bench.
The Indians were poor in the defence as well and even the celebrated duo of Surener Nada and Manjeet Chiller looked vulnerable. Manjeet Chillar was placed in the left corner which is not his usual position. Errors began to creep into the Indian’s play as the first half came to an end. India conceded the first all out of the game. The first half ended with the Indians leading 18-13. Iran had 10-9 advantage on raid points in the first half while on tackle points they led 6-3.
But the half-time seemed to be just what the Indians needed and they came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. The lead was wiped out quickly and the momentum had shifted completely in India’s favour. The Iranian defence started to crumble and Ajay Thakur led the attack for India as the leading scorer. The defence also tightened up and the Iranians were unable to penetrate deep into the Indian half and when their raiders became adventurous, they were tackled successfully by the defenders.
India got the Iranians all out twice and, with less than five minutes remaining, had earned a comfortable 10 point lead. Iranians to their credit didn’t give up and kept fighting. There were some spectacular attempts from their raiders and one of these even earned them a couple of points.
The game was by then out of their reach and the Indians looked relaxed. Eventually, the clock ran down and India were crowned the World Champions.
Whereas for India, this would be a sweet moment as they have defended their reputation inspite of losing their first match of the tournament, the Iranians would go back home with a sense of pride having pushed India into a corner and forcing them to fight hard for a win.