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How a six-match winning streak took the Indian kabaddi team to World Cup glory in 2016

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The Indian kabaddi team defeated Iran 38-29 in the final to win the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup in Ahmedabad on Saturday, October 22, 2016. India’s win over Iran earned them their third successive World Cup win in Standard Style kabaddi.

Ajay Thakur won the Best Raider Award of the tournament while Surjeet Singh bagged the Best Defender Award.

An early loss to South Korea in the group stage jolted India’s World Cup campaign, however, Anup Kumar and Co. bounced back to defeat Australia, Bangladesh, Argentina, England and Thailand to set up an intriguing final against Iran.

The final between India and Iran saw a historic achievement for world kabaddi as the match garnered 20.3 million impressions as per BARC’s TV viewership data - a record highest amongst all non-cricket international sports events in 2016.

Here, we recall India’s historic journey to the grand finale prior to their win over Iran.

Indian team suffer an early blip

Drawn in Group A, favourites India faced South Korean side in the first match of the tournament.

Leading 18-13 at the halfway mark, the Indian team looked set to clinch the match. However, the South Koreans took the match down to the wire and India eventually buckled under pressure in the dying moments of the contest.

In the end, the Koreans managed to win the match by the barest margin of two points as they overcame India 34-32 to cause a massive upset.

Five-match winning streak propels India to final 

Undeterred after their shock loss, the Indian team responded by making light work of Australia as they beat the Aussies 54-20 to get their campaign back on track. India then hammered neighbours Bangladesh 57-20 in their next group game to register two wins on the trot.

The next few matches witnessed Kabaddi World Cup debutants Argentina and England struggle to cope with the all-round Indian attack as they were brushed aside 74-20 and 69-18 respectively.

In the semi-final clash against Thailand, India continued their dominance as they thrashed Thailand 73-20.

India defeat Iran to clinch third World Cup title

The final match of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup saw India face a familiar foe in Iran. It was the third consecutive final between India and Iran in Kabaddi World Cups with the Indian team winning in the previous two instances in 2004 and 2007.

The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final saw a see-saw battle between the two heavyweight teams. The Iranians put pressure on the Indians by taking a marginal 18-13 lead going into half-time.

However, the tide turned in the second-half led by star raider Ajay Thakur as India inflicted an all-out on Iran in the 30th minute of the match. From then on, it was no looking back and plain sailing for India as they comfortably beat Iran 38-29 to win their third successive World Cup title.

Author: Kaustubh Potdar

Featured photo: PKL / Website 

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