Amidst all the headlines that are being grabbed the Line of Control and the assorted chest thumping and head banging that goes along, it’s nice to shift to stuff that is little more innocent and even funny.
For those participating in the Kabaddi World Cup in Ahmedabad, it may be serious business, but truth be told, it will take long time before staged tournaments in front of even more staged crowds really grab the attention of the world. That being said, it’s still quite fascinating to see who all is playing a game we thought was restricted to rural games at its basic form, to demonstration game in India.
It did qualify as almost a guaranteed gold medal for India at the Asian Games. But the final at Incheon Asiad in the October of 2014 showed us that it was no longer a given. Iran ran India ragged and it was sheer inexperience and youthful exuberance that cost them the gold medal.
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The world was changing on the kabaddi court, and the World Cup being played now shows the signs. This won’t be the first sport where national ascendancy has been sacrificed at the altar of broadcasters’ need for making money.
So we had the Pro Kabaddi Premier League (can someone at least be original about naming these tournament?) and players from all corners began coming into the fold. We had Koreans, we had Iranians, and soon it was quite the League of Nations. The results were there for all to see.
India lost to Korea in the very first match and it no longer was the cakewalk it was predicted to be. Quite fascinating, the spread of teams. Apart from the hosts, Korea and Iran, we have sides from countries like Kenya, the US, Poland, England, Australia, Thailand and even Argentina!
One really wonders where and how this sport got to those distant lands. Would be quite fascinating to find out how they play these games there.
This is quite like hockey actually. For decades, no one could touch India. Then, for a decade almost, India couldn’t touch anyone. Incidentally, there was a Hockey Premier League too.
So is kabaddi headed that way? Will we soon see India succumb to the patriarchal and complacent culture of the sport in India being overtaken by the world? Will the rules change? Will the raiders soon have to chant “buddy, buddy, buddy” because the Big Three (the moneyed class) can’t pronounce “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi”?
You think that’s funny? Have you seen how the rules have changed in hockey? All because the money folk can’t dribble!
Make no mistake, India’s domination of the kabaddi courts is a limited offer deal. We will soon be giving ground to some countries. And once they become successful, things may change. That would be interesting to watch.
The numbers game: Much hue and cry going on nowadays about India becoming the No. 1 Test side in the world. As things go in terms of being the top team, that’s all good. If there is a list, never mind how insignificant of short, it’s still nice to be on top. What else is there celebrate?
The ICC mace, the sign of supremacy in Test cricket, was handed over to Virat Kohli, quite dramatically on Dussehra day, as good overcame evil with an assortment of weapons, including the mace. India have vanquished all, but most of those defeated really didn’t have the ammunition to be a realistic challenge.
If the West Indies series was a calculation point, or even the just-concluded New Zealand series, then the mace isn’t as potent as it looks. Simply because the opposition barely passed muster. The real challenge is still to come. England will be way tougher, as will Australia, though the Aussies are really facing the heat in South Africa.
England have shown in Bangladesh that they are pretty well equipped for the limited-overs format. Not quite the Test format, but with Alastair Cook coming back to head things, it will be quite the show.
As of now, the Indian bowling is having a field day, especially since Kohli just refuses to lose any tosses. But there will be such days. There will be days when batsmen like Cook will big in and just not get out. There will be days when the powerhouses of our bowling attack – Ravichandran Ashwin and the surprising Ravindra Jadeja – will be attacked an punished.
There will be days when we will have to chase 300-plus with a day and bit left. Those will be the days when we will know what the thing is about being No. 1.
Who hasn’t been on top of the ICC rankings? As far as my recollection goes, six of the nine Test-playing countries have at some time or the other been top guns. The only thing about being on top of any list is the devilishly difficult job of staying there. So let’s focus on staying on the ground and winning stuff, shall we? That tops every chart.