Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018, Day 1 Roundup: India, Iran inflict heavy defeats on Pakistan, South Korea
The Kabaddi Masters tournament got off in style with India taking on arch-rivals Pakistan at the Al Wasl Sports Complex in Dubai, on Friday, followed by the Group B opener between Iran and South Korea.
On paper, these are four of the strongest teams in the competition and are heavily touted to make it to the semifinals. However, both the matches ended in rather one-sided scorelines on the night, as India beat Pakistan and Iran trounced Korea by 36-20 and 35-20 margins, respectively.
Ajay Thakur leads India from the front
It was a jam-packed stadium in Dubai, as the two age-old rivals faced off at the Al Wasl Sports Complex. The match was fiercely contested in the opening exchanges, with both the teams seizing each other up.
Pakistan even managed to put a check on India's star raider Pardeep Narwal, who had broken all records last season in his PKL-winning campaign with the Patna Pirates. However, India coach Srinivas Reddy has a number of top raiders at his disposal and brought on Rohit Kumar in place of Pardeep.
This move changed the flow of the game, as Rohit kept nicking the points off the Pakistani defenders. Together with Ajay Thakur, the two raiders notched up a total of 17 points, which is almost half of the team score. Meanwhile, Mudassar Ali was the top scorer for Pakistan, with six raid points to his name.
Iran down Korea despite Jang Kun Lee's heroics
The action was quite similar in the second match of the day as well, with Iran running away with a comfortable win over Korea, who put in a spirited performance.
Iran, who have brought a relatively inexperienced side to the tournament, looked as strong as ever, as their defence held through against the Koreans.
Korea's star player Jang Kun Lee had to shoulder most of his side's raiding responsibilities, and he did that brilliantly, notching up 10 raid points. However, the rest of the side was found wanting in attack as they put up a combined three raid points in the entire match.
On the other hand, it was the Iranian defence that stole the show on the night, as Mohammed Malak ran the proceedings with as many as six tackle points.
With these results, both India and Iran are now at the top of their respective groups. If things stay like this till the end of the round robin stage, both India and Iran are on course to face each other in the final.