Kabaddi World Cup: How India fared in previous editions of the tournament
The year 2004 was characterised by several watershed moments. None of the major political parties could secure an absolute majority in Parliament which led to pandemonium, but, ultimately a government was formed after several rounds of heated discussions and arguments.
The year 2004 was also the first time a Kabaddi World Cup was played in line with the international rules. India hosted the tournament in Mumbai. Pakistan and Afghanistan who were slated to play in it, withdrew from the tournament in the last moment due to reasons, unknown.
It meant 12 sides were part of the competition, which included the likes of West Indies who gave the Indian side their toughest battle of the competition but eventually went down 60-42. But none of the other sides came close to testing the Indian side.
The men in blue were relentless in attack throughout the competition. In their road to the final, India played four matches and scored a total of 201 raid points- an average of 50 points per match. They were equally adept in defence, conceding a mere 104 points in those four matches- an average of 26 points per match.
They went on a rampage, dismantling Canada, Thailand and Bangladesh- scoring 50 plus points in 2 of those 3 matches. They faced Iran in the finals – a side that had notched up a whopping 96 points against Germany in the group stages. However, they were given a masterclass in the sport as India thrashed Iran 55-27 in the final.
A pattern could be observed in the way the 2004 Indian side went about their duties in the early stages. Every match was characterised by a dominant first half performance. Against Canada, they reduced the American side to a mere 7 points in the first half, scoring 31 in return.
In their match against Thailand, they scored 65% of their points in the first half and conceded a mere 14 in return. It was only in the latter stages of the tournament when they slowed down in the first half and stamped their authority in the second half and you could put that down to nerves.
2007 World Cup
Fast forward to the 2007 World Cup and India were once again hot favourites to win the tournament. This time, 14 sides were part of the tournament that included Italy and Turkmenistan.
But India’s attacking style of play was still ever-present. They scored a total of 145 points in their 3 knockout matches – at an average of 48 points per match and conceded a total of just 62 points in return.
India ran riot thrashing Malaysia 68-21 in the quarterfinals. In the final four they were up against their Asian counterparts, Bangladesh- whom they comprehensively beat 48-22. In the finals they were once again pitted against an Iranian side who had revenge on their minds.
The Persian nation were in fine form and fancied their chances of winning the World Cup this time. In their road to the finals, they dismantled Thailand 34-4 in the last 8. Pitted against Japan in the semi-finals, the Iranians turned on the style beating them 43-14.
But history has a habit of repeating itself and India ensured they cemented their positon as giants of the game. They once again beat Iran albeit in a much more closely contested match. They ended up winning 29-19 and added another World Cup trophy to their cabinet.
Come October 7th, India will once again welcome 11 other teams on to the mat. Captain, Anup Kumar will be fully aware of the threat posed by sides like Korea and Iran. The men in blue will enter the tournament as favourites with their opponents desperate to discover an Achilles heel in this star-studded Indian line-up.