2016 Kabaddi World Cup: India crowned champions after beating Iran 38-29 in monumental final
India beat Iran 38-29 in a nail biting final and were crowned 2016 Kabaddi World Cup champions. The hosts trailed Iran by five points at the end of the first half but a blitzkrieg from Ajay Thakur in the second half shifted the momentum and India secured a colossal victory.
Iran travelled all the way to India in pursuit of excellence and a title that has been eluding them for more than a decade. The final of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup produced a monumental match between two old rivals of the game.
Captain Anup Kumar began proceedings for India but went back to his half with an empty raid. He had Fazel Atrachali eyeing him like a hawk. Sandeep Narwal eventually opened the scoring with a swift hand touch on Abolfazl.
Meraj Sheykh got Iran off the mark with a running leg touch. Ajay Thakur was entrusted with a large chunk of raiding responsibilities early on. The visitors were maintaining a defensive line that at times looked like a straight line, demonstrating their aggressive approach. The score read 3-3 after six minutes.
Iran then took our Pardeep Narwal with an impeccable team tackle to take the lead. The visitors ensured India didn’t run riot early on. They then tackled Ajay Thakur which meant India’s two main raiders were now on the bench.
Pardeep found it arduous to unlock Iran’s defence and Meraj Shekyh then produced a stupendous raid to take Manjeet Chhillar and Sandeep.
The men in black were now leading 9-7 and the home side were down to three men. India looked shaken with Iran’s ultra-aggressive approach. Presented with a do or die raid, Anup was easily tackled but Mohit Chhillar and Surender Nada pulled off an immaculate super tackle to bring Rahul Chaudhari in.
Iran kept chipping as Meraj took Rahul out immediately to reduce the home side once again to two men. He came back and unleashed a scorpion kick on Surender Nada. Nitin Tomar was now the lone man on the mat. They suffered their first all out as Iran took a 16-12 lead. The visitors were relentless and India were wobbly.
Half Time: India 13 – Iran 18
India began the second half with five men. Meraj’s running hand touch coerced Manjeet Chhillar out of the mat immediately. Against the run of play, Ajay Thakur then executed a flawless raid to take out two men and reduced the deficit to three points.
Pardeep Narwal’s poor night continued as he was once again tackled. The Patna Pirates raider still couldn’t open his scoring. But Ajay Thakur exhibited intelligence to reduce Iran to three men. The score read 20-19 to Iran.
Thakur produced another successful chain break raid to shift the momentum. He returned for the third time and took out Meraj with a running hand touch. No sooner, Iran suffered their first all out as India took a crucial 24-21 lead with ten minutes remaining.
The relentless, Ajay Thakur once again took out a crouching Meraj with a solid hand touch and completed his super ten. India’s defence was now at its peak producing tackle after tackle.
Nitin Tomar then produced the raid of the match. He powered his way past a strong Iranian chain to pick up two raid points. Iran were down to two men, but they executed a well-timed super tackle on Rahul Chaudhari and reduced the deficit to five points.
With three minutes’ left, Ajay Thakur put to bed any chance of a comeback and inflicted yet another all out with a quick two-point raid. India were now leading 34-24.
Understandably, they slowed down the game considerably in the final moments of the gam. The men in blue held on for a historic victory and deservedly won the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final
Full Time: India 38 - Iran 29