Kabaddi Masters Dubai 2018 promised kabaddi fans a lot of thrills and excitement, and it delivered all that and more in the group stages.
Invincible India absolutely dominated Group A and emerged as clear winners, followed by Pakistan who came in second. Kenya put up a brave fight but in the end it just wasn’t enough against the two Asian giants.
Group B saw a similar domination from Iran, but they were offered stiff resistance by the innovators from Republic of Korea. It was a tough group but Iran managed to go through undefeated. Unpredictable Argentina showed some moments of brilliance but lacked the consistency needed to go through to the semi-final.
Here is a look at how each team made their way through the group stage.
1. India remain invincible
India gave no chance to any other team from their group as they put in one strong performance after another to top Group A. Their defence, comprising stalwarts like Surender Nada, Mohit Chhillar and Surjeet Singh remained impenetrable and, on the back of some strong raiding, they went past the 50-point mark in their final game against Kenya.
Girish Maruti Ernak was a youngster who stole the spotlight with a High 5 against Pakistan. Raiders Monu Goyat and Rishank Devadiga also looked in fine touch. All in all India are in a strong position to win the title.
2. Pakistan’s challenge rides on strong performances
Pakistan pushed hard against a strong Indian side but were unable to topple them in the group-stage. However, they kept the game close till the closing minutes of the second half. They lack the strong leadership that someone like Ajay Thakur provides to the Indian team, but they will want to put in a strong performance against Iran to try and set up a revenge match against India; and with a well settled side, who knows what could happen if they do.
3. Iran power through with force
Iran have shown great strength in defence through the tournament and some of their raiders, such as Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou Mahalli, have managed to strike good form. They survived a fright against Republic of Korea where they showed tremendous resolve. Their fighting spirit will hold them in good stead and they will want to continue their unbeaten run in the semi-final against Pakistan, and the potential final after that.
4. New tricks up Republic of Korea’s sleeve
Republic of Korea have been a revelation in this tournament when it comes to the raiding department, consistently putting in one good performance after another. The highlight of their campaign was a massive 72-16 victory over Argentina which showed just how far the side had come in the sport. The Jang Kun Lee led side will now face the mighty Indian juggernaut in the semi-final where they will want to prove that they have what it takes to lock horns with and beat even the best in the world.
In the semi-finals on the 29th of June, India will meet Republic of Korea while Pakistan will face off against Iran with coverage to begin at 7:30PM IST.