The Indian Kabaddi eves got their 2018 Asian Games campaign off to a bright start with a convincing 43-12 win against Japan in what turned out to be a lop-sided encounter at the Garuda Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Indian eves walked into the contest with the favorites tag and full of confidence -- which they translated onto a dashing show on the mat as the Japanese players could not eke out an easy path to collect points right through the encounter.
Led by raider Payel Chaudhari in the absence of regular skipper Abhilasha Mhatre, India started off on the right foot as they raced to a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes before a super tackle from Japan, which was the only real highlight for Japan throughout the match.
The scoreline then read 5-4 in favor of India and as the scales seemed to balance, the Indian eves found their hidden fire and lashed out a strong attack that saw them inflicting a second all-out in the first half and take a vital 19-8 lead going into the break.
While a comeback from Japan was anticipated for the second half, the Japanese players dug a deeper hole from which they could never come back up as the Indian raiders made merry to complement their deensive unit, which was led by left corner defender Sakshi Kumari -- who was certainly the 'Player of the Day' in India's dominating 43-12 victory.
Here are the talking points from the opening game of the Games.
#1 India's dominating 19-8 lead in the first half
Kabaddi, being a pacy game requires each player to be on the tip of their toes and that was what was on display from the Indians as they combined to put in an all-round performance that saw them build a sizeable 19-8 lead going into the second half.
India's commanding 4-0 in the early minutes of the first half was thwarted by a good effort from Japan but all in vain as Sakshi Kumari and Pahel Chaudhari combined to collect points at a quick pace and hand in the advantage to India.
#2 'Super tackles', the only highlight in the game for Japan
Against a cohesive defense unit in the Indian half, the Japanese raiders could not find their way through and were caught in their tracks more often than not. With the raiding unit failing, the onus was on the defensive unit to score.
In the opening half, the Japanese defenders did well to keep the Indian raiders at bay by inflicting two 'super tackles' that dented the Indian lead by a certain measure. While there was nothing to show for Japan in the second half, the fact that their defenders scored more than half the points will need to be taken care of, before their next assignment.
#3 'Super Raid' for skipper Payel Chaudhari
The Indian skipper was the team's best raider on the day with her clever running hand touches and bonus point attempts. Blessed with an ability to travel the court at a lively pace and turn away with precision, Payel proved to be a nightmare for the Japanese defenders.
With just 10 minutes to go on the clock in the second half, Payel produced a moment of magic as she first got a touch on the left cover defender and as she made her way back to the mid-line, extended her right arm to get a touch on the right cover and warded off a stiff dash from the right corner to get over the line with three points to her credit.
#4 Story of 'bad to worse' for Japan
India did come into the contest as the favorites to win and showed some excellent skill in the opening half, running away with a commanding 19-8 lead. In the second half, that lead only swelled as the Japanese players looked out of steam and posed no challenge whatsoever to the Indians.
The second half translated into a bigger issue for Japan, highlighted by the fact that they could pick their first point of the second half only after India picked seven, including an all-out. Overall, the Indian eves added 24 points from the second half while Japan could only manage 4 points, outlining their poor performance in the second half.
#5 Sakshi Kumari - 'Player of the Day'
Left corner Sakshi Kumari made it a day to remember as the lanky defender proved her might in the raiding department as well, picking up some vital points through pursuits which took the Japanese by surprise.
While she was at the top of her game in her raids, her daunting tackles from the left corner stopped the Japanese raider in their tracks and punctured any hopes of a Japanese comeback in the game.
Do you think the Indian Women's Kabaddi team is on the right track to win their third successive gold medal at the Asiad? Shoot off your opinions in the comments section below.