The Indian kabaddi team has had remarkable success in the Asian Games so far. They have aced the event and won gold every single year since the men’s category was first introduced in 1990.
At the 2014 Games, the team managed to script a win once again but not before a spirited Iranian side gave them a run for their money. As the team prepare for another successful defence of their title, we take a look back at the time when the side, under the leadership of Rakesh Kumar, managed a narrow win to maintain their unbeaten run.
As Asian Champions, the Indians went into the final as favourites. They had stalwarts like Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Captain Cool Anup Kumar, Tamil Thalaivas’ One-Man-Army Manjeet Chhillar, Jasvir Singh and a young Ajay Thakur, the skipper of the side that’s travelling to Jakarta this time. They had the firepower in their ranks, and the final match only seemed like a mere formality.
However, at the final hurdle they ran into a spirited Iranian side which comprised of U Mumba’s defensive wall Fazel Atrachali and Dabang Delhi K.C.’s Meraj Sheykh. The team came out all guns blazing against the Indians and took an early lead. Sheykh in particular looked unstoppable and gave the Indian defenders a tough time.
With things looking grim, India fell back on their trusted raider Anup Kumar to do the job for them and he delivered. He returned with a three point raid mid-way through the first half to give India a sliver of hope. But in spite of his fighting performance, the team still trailed 13-21 at half time.
Rakesh Kumar went on a rampage in the second half, quickly erasing the difference. He built on Anup Kumar’s early surge and inspired a fightback.
The match came down to the wire and it took Tamil Thalaivas’ new recruit Jasvir Singh’s heroics in the closing minutes to seal a narrow two-point victory for the team. It read 27-25 in India’s favour and the world-beaters continued their unbeaten run at the Games.