New Delhi, October 8: India chalked out tense but dramatic wins over Iran and Chinese Taipei to regain the Men's and Women's Kabaddi Teams gold at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday.
India eked out a close 33-29 win to dethrone ran while the Women's piped Chinese Taipei 26-25 in their respective finals. The women also earned the distinction of winning the 100th Medal for India in these Games
This was the Indian men’s eighth gold medal while for the Women it was their third in the Asian Games history. India's men had lost to Iran in the semi-final at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. Before that, India won all seven gold medals since kabaddi made its Asian Games debut in Beijing in 1990. The women’s won the gold at Guangzhou 2010, defended its title at Incheon 2014 and finished runners-up at Jakarta 2018.
In a fiercely contested final, a robust Iranian defence led by captain Fazel Atrachali put India under pressure at the start with strong tackles. However, captain Pawan Sehrawat and raider Naveen Kumar kept their side on the hunt by stealing away points consistently.
Mohammad Reza Shadlu did the job for Iran early with multi-point raids and led India 12-9 with around three minutes to go for half-time.
The Indian defence, spearheaded by vice-captain Sunil Kumar helped his side inflict Iran to an all-out to go into the break with a four-point lead at 17-13. Aslam Inamdar and Naveen Kumar also chipped in with crucial raiding points.
Though India started the scoring in the second half, Iran inflicted an all-out on India and levelled the scores at 25-all with 10 minutes to go for the full-time.
Pawan Sehrawat then led India’s fightback and removed captain Fazel Atrachali with a raid. The experienced Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh was also sent out as India led 28-25.
Iran mounted a comeback with three successive points. The scores were level at 28-all with just a minute to go for the final whistle.
Forced into a do-or-die raid, Pawan won four points to put his team back into the lead. However, the match was suspended as the referees and teams sought clarity on the points scored on the raid.
The play was suspended for over an hour as both teams disputed over the application of the rule that governs the usage of the lobby area on the mat.
Alireza Mizaeian went in for Iran next but was tackled down by the Indian defence. With time on India’s side, Naveen Kumar went in for the final raid of the match to win a point and complete India’s win.
In the women's section, India overcame a stiff challenge from Chinese Taipei before emerging 26-25 winners. Pushpa Rana and Pooja Hathwala, who scored the bulk of India’s points during the group stage, started the raids for India.
Chinese Taipei matched India point-by-point but Pooja Hathwala’s super raid, three touches and a bonus, helped India take a five-point cushion at half-time.
India led 14-9 at half-time and extended their lead to six at the start of the second half. Still, Chinese Taipei found a response with a super tackle on Pushpa Rana and eventually cut the deficit to two points.
Every time India increased their lead, Chinese Taipei managed to find their way back into the match. Chinese Taipei inflicted an all-out on India to take a two-point lead at 21-19.
The match was evenly poised but India managed to get ahead by a point courtesy of successful raids from Pushpa Rana. Just a bonus point from Chinese Taipei on their final two raids helped India take the gold medal by the narrowest of margins.
Earlier, India and Chinese Taipei played out a thrilling 34-34 draw in the group stage.