The kabaddi event in the 13th South Asian Games saw the Indian men's and women's kabaddi team assert their dominance in the sport yet again. Both sides clinched the gold medals in the event held at the APF Hall, Halchowk, Kathmandu, from 4th to 9th December. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the host Nepal participated in kabaddi.
The Indian men's team clinched their 10th gold after a dominant 51-18 victory against Sri Lanka in the final. On the other hand, the Indian women's team grabbed their fourth-consecutive gold medal of South Asian Games by defeating Nepal 50-13. The Sri Lankan men's team and Nepal women's team settled with the silver medal following their loss in the final.
The sport of kabaddi at the 13th South Asian Games witnessed some exciting match-ups and upsets that took place in the six-day event. Here are some of the key highlights and takeaways from the competition.
#3 Sri Lankan women's team wins bronze medal without winning any matches
The Sri Lankan women's kabaddi team clinched a bronze medal along with Bangladesh in the Kabaddi event of South Asian Games. Surprisingly, they didn't register a single win out of three matches in the preliminary stage. Sri Lanka finished at the bottom of the points table to suffer an early elimination from the gold-medal fixture.
Sri Lanka lost to India (14-53), Nepal (24-28), and Bangladesh (16-17) in the group stage of the competition. Since there were only four teams in the women's category, the teams ranked in the third and fourth positions would eventually claim a bronze medal in the event. Indiwari Sarasika led the team as the captain, while Indika Damyanti was the vice-captain of the squad.
The Sri Lankan women's team also clinched bronze back in the 2010 South Asian Games. And yet, due to the lack of exposure to the sport, they are yet to make a name for themselves in international women's kabaddi scene.
#2 First-time silver medalists in kabaddi event of South Asian Games
The kabaddi event in the South Asian Games 2019 witnessed the Sri Lankan men's Kabaddi team and Nepali women's Kabaddi team enter into the final for the first time in South Asian Games history. Both sides claimed a silver medal following their defeat to India in the gold medal match.
The Sri Lankan men's team began the competition with an upset win over Pakistan (29-27) on the opening day before they fell short against India by a 49-16 margin in their second match. However, the team came back strong with two consecutive victories over the hosts Nepal (34-22) and Bangladesh (35-20) to book their spot in the summit clash.
In the women's category, Nepal showed their competent side with victories over the 2016 silver medalists Bangladesh (36-25) and Sri Lanka (28-24) to earn a spot in the final. Nepal fell to their only loss against India in the group stages.
The Sri Lankan men's team and Nepali women's side lost to India (51-18 & 50-13) in both categories in the final. However, it was a matter of pride for them to emerge as a competitive side with no prior experience in the sport.
#1 India claim gold in both categories, was there any challenge though?
India lived up to their pre-favourites tag in the competition by clinching gold medals in both men's and women's categories. They remained unbeaten in the preliminary stage and went on to win their respective finals against Sri Lanka (men's) and Nepal (women's) by 51-18 and 50-13 margins respectively.
Led by Deepak Niwas Hooda, India boasted of a star-studded raiding line-up in Pawan Sehrawat, Naveen Kumar, and Pardeep Narwal. Young prodigies in Nitesh Kumar and Vishal Bhardwaj led the team on the defensive front. They managed to defeat Sri Lanka (49-16), Pakistan (49-22), Bangladesh (44-19), and Nepal (62-26) to top the points table.
On the other hand, Priyanka led the women's category with Deepika Joseph providing support to her as the vice-captain. They managed to outsmart Sri Lanka (53-14), Bangladesh (47-16), and Nepal (19-43) in the preliminary stage. Sonali Shingate and Nisha scored consistent raid points, while Ritu Negi and Harvinder Kaur fared well in the defence.
India looked under pressure at no stage in the event. The team managed to dominate the kabaddi event with their all-round efforts. The Indian team hardly faced a big challenge all through the competition, and the young squad put their best foot forward to pick up convincing wins.