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2016 Kabaddi World Cup: Iran cruise into the finals, defeat Korea 22-28

Iran staged a sweet comeback to clinch the thrilling encounter against the Republic of Korea.

Iran’s captain Meraj Sheykh in action inside the Korean half

The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup semi-finals witnessed a cracker of a game where the so-far unbeaten South Korea went down 22-28 to the mighty Iranians. While Korea came into this encounter on the back of a big win, the Iranians entered the business end of the tournament with a meek loss against Poland. But they seemed to be unaffected by the same, as they put up an aggressive spectacle to snatch a win from under Korea’s nose. 

The Koreans started off by winning the toss and asked the Iranians to go in for the first raid, wherein it was the Iranian skipper Meraj Sheykh who began the proceedings with an empty raid, with Jang Kun Lee doing the same for Korea.

The first points came forth on a do-or-die raid wherein Meraj Sheykh delivered with his raid while Korea went down in their do-or-die attempt with Mighani leading the mantle off a tackle on Dong Geon Lee. Four minutes into the game, it was Iran that led 2-0 when Jang Kun Lee showcased his prowess and sneaked in a raid point with a trademark running hand touch on Suleiman to get the first points for Korea. 

Mighani seemed to be like a man possessed, when he inflicted yet another solo ankle hold on Dong Geon Lee to rest the scoreline 2-3 in favour of Iran. The 9th minute saw a master class raid from the miracle man Jang Kun Lee when he put in dupki to escape from the clutches of Fazel Atrachali to get a point for his team.

A host of successive tackles, especially when the Iranian team was reduced to two men, saw the Koreans surging ahead with 7 points to 4 in the 11th minute. The unavoidable all-out was soon inflicted when Jang Kun Lee forced out substitute Karouki on his raid for Korea to lead 10-4 at the end of 13 minutes. One cause for the success of the Korean team was that they kept the skipper Meraj off the court which hurt the Iranians as they lagged 12-7 in the 17th minute. 

The fast-paced attack from the Koreans had exposed the fragility of the otherwise mighty Iranian defense, but Meraj Sheykh, the flag bearer kept bringing forth the odd raid point for his team ensuring that they were not far too behind at half-time with 11 points compared to Korea’s 13.

HALF TIME: Korea 13-11 Iran

When play resumed after the break, the Iranians would have backed themselves to fancy a strong comeback, which was evident when Meraj gathered two points off a raid, and the reverse raid from Korea was unsuccessful and they enforced an all out top make it 15 all in the 22nd minute.

Jang-Kun lee then faltered on a crucial do-or-die raid when Meraj pulled off a solo tackle in the 24th minute for the Iranians to extend their lead with a 15-18 scoreline. 28th minute saw the Iranian defense regaining its lost hold, with Farhad putting in a strong ankle hold and Fazel Atrachali executing a ruthless body block on Tae Boem Kim for their team to lead 17-21. 

The last quarter of the match witnessed Iran running away with the match slowly and steadily. They played on the third raid and the defense came into play as they answered every rival tackle with one of their own, to lead 20-23 at the end of 34 minutes.

Jang-Kun Lee's failure to fire with just 3 successful raids of 15, as he is trapped by Mighani in the 35th minute to give away a key point and what followed was a colossal raid from Karouki to make it 20-26 in favour of Iran.

In a turn of tides in the 38th minute, Korea put in a Super Tackle to keep Meraj Sheykh at bay but Fazel comes roaring back with a solo ankle hold, to rest the scoreline on 22-27. The man who started off with an empty raid Meraj Sheykh finished it off in similar fashion along with a celebratory somersault. 

FULL TIME: Korea 22-28 Iran

This crucial win has enabled Iran to march ahead into the finals of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup where they will meet the winners of the 2nd semi-final between India and Thailand. Second favourites to win the title, they will take away a lot of heart and confidence into the penultimate encounter where they will probably lock horns against the defending champions India.

They will be keen to reverse history from the previous two editions when they had gone down to the home team to finish as runners-up.

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