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Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018: 'We missed Sajjad Shaukat's speed against Indian defenders,' says Pakistan captain Nasir Ali

Soumo Ghosh
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive
1.71K   //    23 Jun 2018, 11:25 IST

Nasir Ali
Nasir Ali

A packed house, an intense rivalry, and the presence of eminent personalities -- the clash between age-old arch-rivals India and Pakistan at the Al Wasl Sports Complex in Dubai had it all.

The opening match of the Kabaddi Masters tournament was billed as a clash between the two best sides in the competition, especially after Iran announced a second-string squad. However, the clash eventually failed to live up to its billing, as India dominated their opponents, running away with a 36-20 win.

On the face of things, Pakistan did not seem to pose much of a challenge for India. The actual case was quite on the contrary. In fact, the two teams had started off on equal terms in the match, as both the sides went neck-and-neck for a large duration of the first half.

Where did it all go wrong for Pakistan? Well, things had never really worked out for the Pakistanis right from the start (not of the match, but their sojourn to Dubai itself).

Most of the squad members faced visa issues, which is why they could not travel to the host city in advance, something that all the other teams had done. In fact, the Pakistan squad reached Dubai on the morning of the match (at 7 am), after a late clearance of their visas.

While a two-and-a-half hour flight from Pakistan is unlikely to cause much jet-lag among the players, a certain amount of fatigue did start taking hold of them after a certain point in the match.

"This is not something that was in our hands. But yes, some of our boys were getting tired towards the second half," Pakistan captain Nasir Ali said to Sportskeeda. "We’ll try to work on that before the second match, and win against India (on Monday)."

India coach Srinivas Reddy had, in his post-match analysis, pointed out to the media that his side's raiding department made the main difference against Pakistan, that India's raiders were far ahead of Pakistan.

However, Pakistan had travelled to India with a much-weakened squad that did not have two of their key raiders -- Sajjad Shaukat and Muzammal Hussain. Nasir conceded after the match that his side clearly missed the pace that someone like Shaukat offers while going on the raids.

"Sajjad Shaukat is one of our best raiders. He’s very fast. His absence obviously weakened our raiding department a bit," said Nasir. "Having said that, the Indian raiders did brilliantly against us. Our defence took quite a battering in this match."

While the captain looks to pick up the pieces after the battering against India, he went on to reveal that he and his team are still awaiting word on whether Shaukat and Hussain will get their visas to travel to Dubai in time for the rest of the matches.

Although the heavy defeat at the hands of India would set off some alarm bells, Pakistan will count on the fact that they have a rest day, in order to work on their mistakes, ahead of their next match against Kenya.

Nasir feels that it was not only their raiders but also their covers who let them down in the end. However, with a day in hand before they face off against Kenya, the Pakistanis will be looking to rectify these mistakes and push for a place in the semifinals.

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Soumo Ghosh
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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