Asian Games 2018, Men's Kabaddi Semifinal, India vs Iran: 5 Talking Points
Sevn-time defending champions India have been dethroned. Gold medal number eight will have to wait. India's grasp of the gold medal in the men's kabaddi event was not so much broken but violently ripped away by Iran in a dominant performance that saw them overwhelm the Indians 27-18.
Iran's defence, the best in the business, laid a beat-down on India's star raiders to send them packing from the 2018 Asian Games at the semi-final stage. Iran's win is also historic for it means that there will be a first-time winner in this edition, India having won every gold since kabaddi's inception at the Asian Games in 1990.
India started well, sedately building a five-point lead as Iran looked a little nervy. But they eventually shook them off, arrested their slide and fought back to level things up. From then on, the match was a close affair before Iran finally took a commanding lead in the second half by inflicting an All Out.
Mohammad Esmail had an excellent game for the Iranians, putting in smart raids and chipping in with some crucial tackles on the defensive end. Fazel Atrachali, their captain, was excellent too, as always.
No one really covered themselves in glory on the Indian side. It was a collective failure.
Here are the main talking points from the match:
The pace of this match was a slow one. From the outset, both teams looked to play on the third raid, now universally known as the Do-or-Die raid. The two teams seemed content to play this strategy.
With Iran, considering how their defence is significantly stronger, it was expected that they would play on their defence while taking minimal risks in the raiding department. India adopting the same approach seemed to signal two things - that they were very afraid of what Iran's defence would do while at the same time signalling that perhaps confidence was a tad low in the Indian raiding ranks.
This strategy from both teams continued almost right through the match, barring the last five minutes where India was forced to step it up as they had a huge deficit to overcome. But it proved to be a bridge too far as Atrachali and his teammates made sure the door remained shut.