Ajay Thakur had predicted he would win the Kabaddi World Cup for India: Manjeet Chhillar
The star of the show – Ajay Thakur – is more than just a sensational kabaddi player: He is a psychic too! The raider from Himachal Pradesh emerged as the Most Valuable Player in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final, accumulating 12 points to help India overcome Iran 38-29 to lift the trophy for the third time in as many attempts.
After the match, Ajay Thakur’s international and Pro Kabaddi League teammate Manjeet Chhillar revealed how the 30-year-old knew he would conjure up a match-winning performance even before the match started.
“Ajay told me in the morning that he’ll beat Iran single-handedly. And as you all saw it, he did precisely that,” a beaming Manjeet shared this sensational story
It is not just Ajay who has a sixth sense, but also his captain Anup Kumar. Before the tournament started, Anup Kumar, while talking to Sportskeeda, had claimed that Ajay Thakur will be the player who will win the World Cup trophy for India. Maybe it was written in the stars!
Problem with injuries and making a stunning comeback
The Puneri Paltan raider was on fire at the World Cup and ended the tournament with 64 raid points – the most by any player in the tournament. Having also effected 4 successful tackles, his impact was visible on both halves of the court.
Ajay Thakur’s form at the World Cup came as a surprise for quite a few as he had an underwhelming couple of seasons in the Pro Kabaddi League due to multiple injuries. He thanked his coaches for believing in him and helping him chalk out a plan to maximise his abilities at the World Cup.
“Kabaddi is a physical game and injuries are a part and parcel of it,” said Ajay. “When I came to play, Balwan sir and Baskaran sir made us practice real hard and they motivated us. They told us that there is nobody better us! They guaranteed that if we stuck to the plan, we’ll win the trophy.”
Despite the exemplary form before the finals, it takes cojones of steel to predict that you will defeat Iran by yourself at the biggest stage and actually delivering the goods. Talk about confidence in one’s abilities! It is not just Ajay Thakur who believed in himself, but also his captain in the Pro Kabaddi League – Manjeet Chhillar.
“Ajay Thakur is one of the best raiders in the world. The more you motivate him, more the points he’ll get. We’ve seen from Season 1 of the Pro Kabaddi League that he thrives under pressure,” said a delighted Manjeet.
“In the past, too, Ajay got points when we needed them as he showed with Bengaluru Bulls and Puneri Paltan. Today, the Indian team needed it and he delivered, as he does more often than not,” he continued.
Ajay Thakur won us the World Cup: Anup Kumar
Captain Cool, as Anup Kumar is fondly called, also reserved special praise for the boisterous raider by crediting him for changing the course of the match.
”I believe Ajay Thakur changed the course of the game and it is because of him that we won the trophy,” claimed Anup, in front of a blushing Ajay Thakur.
In the 25th minute, Ajay Thakur’s 2-point raid started a 5-minute period of dominance for India where they outscored Iran 10-2 and also inflicted an all out on their opponents along with taking the lead at 24-21. The man himself, however, refused to pinpoint to any moment in the match while crediting the entire team for sticking to the plan and executing it perfectly.
He said, “The entire team played well, it wasn’t just that raid. We believed in ourselves and showed that we can do it when the odds are stacked against us.”
The man of the match and the star of the tournament, Ajay Thakur reminisced about his father and fulfilling his dream.
“My father was a state-level wrestler. It was his dream to see me or my brother to represent India and bring laurels to the country. He always told me that I have to play for the country. Before the tournament, I remembered his words and thankfully, I played well and helped India win the gold medal,” revealed Ajay before signing off.
Ajay Thakur’s 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final in numbers:
Attempted Raids: 17
Successful Raids: 10
Unsuccessful Raids: 2
Empty Raids: 3
Touch Points: 10
Bonus Points: 2
Total Points: 12