Indian Men's Kabaddi Team Reclaims Asian Games Title After Controversial Final, Women Also Clinch Gold
The Indian men's kabaddi team emerged victorious after an hour of arguments to reclaim its Asian Games title, beating defending champions Iran 33-29 in a controversial final.
The Indian men's kabaddi team emerged victorious after an hour of arguments to reclaim its Asian Games title, beating defending champions Iran 33-29 in a controversial final, which was temporarily suspended, on Saturday. The women's team survived by the skin of its teeth as it beat Chinese Taipei 26-25 in a dramatic final for the country's 100th medal. There was hardly anything separating the two teams in the men's summit clash at 28-28 with one minute and five seconds left on the clock.
But controversy erupted in the last minute when Indian skipper Pawan Sehrawat went in for a do-or-die raid.
Sehrawat went into the lobby (out of bound) without a touch. However, Amirhossein Bastami and three other Iranian defenders rushed towards the Indian in an attempt to push him out, leading to confusion and mayhem.
It was unclear whether Sehrawat had been successfully tackled or not and there was also confusion as to which rule was to be applied -- the old one or the new one.
According to the new rule, Sehrawat was out but the old rule deemed Sehrawat and all the Iranians who followed him also out, which would give India four points and Iran one.
With the officials see-sawing between ruling in favour of India and Iran, both sets of players sat on the court in protest when the decision went against them in unprecedented scenes.
After a lot of deliberation, discussion and arguing by both sides, and the match being suspended, the officials ruled it in favour of India and the scoreline read 32-29.
Winners of seven consecutive gold medals at the continental showpiece, the Indian men's team had suffered a shock semifinal loss to Iran at Jakarta five year's ago. Iran had looked the better team as it led 10-6. But the Indians made a thrilling comeback to take a 17-13 lead at half time after effecting two all outs.
Resuming after the lemon break, Sehrawat fetched a bonus point while the Iranians struggled.
The Indians then raced to a five point lead at 24-19. But the defending champions inflicted a timely 'all out' to level the game 25-25 with 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
Indian women reign supreme
This was India's third gold in women's kabaddi which was introduced in the 2010 Asian Games. India won gold in the 2010 and 2014 editions but settled for silver in 2018 after losing to Iran in the final.
This time the Indians faced Chinese Taipei, an emerging kabaddi nation, in what turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat summit showdown.
The two sides were tied 34-34 in the group league match and both knew that it was going to be a tough final.
India were well ahead at 14-9 at the half time, courtesy of a super raid from Pooja, who was one of the stars of the intense final that also saw the team's coach being cautioned with a green card.
The next 15 minutes saw a nerve-wracking display of tremendous game from both sides with the lead getting exchanged quite a few times.
Chinese Taipei narrowed down India's lead to 16-14 soon after resumption. With less than five minutes remaining on the clock, Chinese Taipei won a crucial video referral as the scoreline read 19-17 in India's favour.
From there, Chinese Taipei were on the ascendancy. There were just two Indian players on the field when a Chinese Taipei player made the raid. One Indian player was out as she touched the backline and the other failed to get hold of the opposition raider.
Chinese Taipei took four points -- two from the raid and two for sending India 'all out' -- and that took them ahead at 21-19.
Pooja then got one point from her raid to reduce the margin to 20-21. The next Chinese Taipei raider could not get any points and the onus was on India to make things even.
At this point, captain Ritu Negi took a masterstroke of a decision as she stopped Pushpa from going for a raid. She sent Pooja instead who did a marvellous job as India got two points to lead 22-21.
It was not over yet and the match got more intense as the two teams were locked 22-22, 23-23 and then 24-24.
At that stage, raider Pushpa won a point for India as 53 seconds were left on the clock. Chinese Taipei took a review but that was turned down, sealing the fate of the match in favour of India.
Chinese Taipei won a point through their raider to reduce the score to 25-26. The Indians played out the remaining few seconds before jumping into each other's arms in celebration.
"We worked really hard after losing the gold in the 2018 Asian Games. We waited for five year but our hard work paid off," said captain Ritu Negi who was also a part of the silver-winning team at the 2018 Asian Games.
India had lost to Iran in the final in Indonesia.
"Our players were a bit nervous towards the end but they kept themselves under control and ultimately pulled off the win," coach Edachery Bhaskaran said.
"Chinese Taipei are now a very strong side. They have trained in India in the past and will keep on improving. We also have to work harder and maintain our hold."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)