In the greatest upset in Asian Games 2018, India Men’s Kabaddi team, for the first time since the game’s inception, failed to reach the tournament final. They lost to Iran in the semi-final by 27-18. Seven-time champions India were totally battered by the Iranian defence and was left shell-shocked after the defeat. Iran will face Korea in the final who in turn defeated another powerhouse Pakistan in the other semifinal.
India never lost a match since its introduction in the Asian Games at the Beijing edition in 1990. But this edition seemed to change things permanently. First India had a wake-up call when they lost to Korea in the group match. But the inevitable came when they lost to reach the final by losing to Iran.
Iran avenged their defeat of 2014 when in the dying moments of the final they lost to India. But this time they came all-prepared and it was clearly visible in their approach towards the game. The defenders, raiders were all on their toes with chest bumps and high fives after each point. Doubled with this was the constant cheering of the crowd from the stands. “I am too stunned to react at the moment. It will take some time to accept that this has exactly happened. But let me tell you there will be far-reaching impact of this result and repercussions will be huge. I don’t think that the boys were not sincere. But possibly we didn’t factor in that Iran has improved in leaps and bounds over the years,” reacted former captain Anup Kumar after the defeat.
Captain Ajay Thakur, who is a master in the game, was injured and remained out of the match for the maximum time. This affected the Indian team heavily who started well in the first five minutes but lacked speed and intensity lacked thereafter. Sports analyst Boria Majumdar reacted by tweeting, “India’s gold medal journey in Kabaddi ends. Iran was the better team. India faded after a good start. Impact of PKL and the tournaments? Loss to Korea and this- India needs to recalibrate.”
Dominance is not permanent in sport and that is proved by this India’s loss. This upset is heartbreaking for every Indian. But salute to our Kabaddi teams who have given so many World Cups and Asian Games gold.