The Indian men’s kabaddi team won the 11th edition of the Asian Kabaddi Championship on Friday, beating Iran 42-32 in the final.
Held in Busan, South Korea, the Indian team remained unbeaten throughout the five group stage matches to eventually top the group and secure a spot in the final.
Central to the Indians’ achievement was captain Pawan Sehrawat.
The talented raider had become the most expensive player in Pro Kabaddi history, when he was bought for Rs 2.26 crore at the auction last season. However, his campaign for the Tamil Thalaivas lasted just 10 minutes after he picked up a serious knee injury that required surgery.
The Asian Championship was his first tournament after recovering. And he starred in the final, picking up an important 13 points for the Indians, followed by Aslam Inamdar’s tally of eight raid points.
A new-look Iran team was captained by Patna Pirates’ defender Mohammadreza Shadloui Chiyaneh, who also took raiding responsibilities for his team.
There was some strong resistance from the Iranians, but eventually the experience of the Indians – all of whom play important roles for their respective PKL teams.
The final was a far better outing for the Indians compared to how hard they had to struggle in the 33-28 win they managed against Iran during the group stage.
The win on Friday though, was the eight time India won the continental title.
The event though, is still considered a tune-up to the all-important Asian Games that will be held in September.
Iran caused an upset by beating India in the semi-final in 2018, en route to winning gold. The Indians though will be looking to take back the crown.