What was supposed to be a kabaddi World Cup semi-final eventually turned out to be a mere practice match for India. The hosts were merciless against hapless Thailand team, as they overpowered the South East Asian outfit 73-20 to book a spot in the final, where they will take on rivals Iran.
As the final scoreline suggests, the game was entirely one-sided, with the Thai team picking up their first point only in the fourth minute, with India already boasting five points on the board at the time. While Thailand is the youngest team in the tournament, India was always the favourite.
Just as India had done so in their final group stage game against England, there was a concerted effort in winning most of the points through the attacking front rather than earning the score through their already powerful defensive structure. The onus, as usual, fell on raiders Ajay Thakur and Pardeep Narwal who worked smartly to enter double figures yet again. While the teenager scored a match high of 14 points, Thakur claimed 11 to take him to the joint second-spot in the leaderboard for most number of points won during raids, 52.
Meanwhile, the top scoring raider in the tournament happens to be the Thailand’s oldest player, at 24, and captain Khomsan Thongkham, who took his tally from 53 to 56 on the night.
India’s defensive unit too was in fine form, despite the fact that the inexperienced opponents lacked the physical strength and technique. “Technically, we are the most superior team in the tournament,” asserted India captain Anup Kumar after the game.
The hosts also took the opportunity to test their bench strength. They used up the allotted five substitutions to bring on the likes of Nitin Tomar, Rahul Chaudhari and even local lad Kiran Parmar.
In the earlier semi-final, Iran edged past an unbeaten Korean team 28-22 to book their place in the final. As such, it will be the third time in a row that India and Iran will play for the World Cup title.