Riding on Ajay Thakur’s brilliance, hosts India clinched a thrilling 9-point win over Iran in the final at Ahmedabad on Saturday to take the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup title.
This is the third consecutive title for the Indians. Infact, only three Kabaddi World Cups in the Standard Style have been conducted till date and all of them are in India’s kitty.
In the final at the Arena by TransStadia, India defeated Iran 38-29 with Ajay Thakur scoring 12 points and Nitin Tomar chipping in with 6 points.
The defending champions overcame Iran skipper’s Meraj Sheykh’s seven points.
At half time, India was trailing at 13-18 but Ajay Thakur led a superb fight back to down the Iranians.
Both Iran and India were the finalists in the previous two Standard Style Kabaddi World Cups in 2004 and 2007. On both the occasions, India got the better of Iran and Saturday also yielded the same result.
A total of 12 teams took part in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup which included Australia, Bangladesh, England, Japan, Kenya, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Argentina and the United States apart from the finalists India and Iran.
Pakistan was also originally a participating team but was forcefully withdrawn by the Indian-dominated International Kabaddi Federation following border tensions between the two nations. Argentina was a last minute replacement for Pakistan in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.
The tournament could have been different had Pakistan played as its replacement Argentina lost all its five matches in Pool A which also has India.
Hosts India won four out of five games in their Pool A round robin league. South Korea topped Pool A winning all its five matches but were knocked out by Iran in a closely fought semi final. Iran which was placed in Group B had won four and lost one in the round robin stage just like the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup winners.
While Iran had a close shave against South Korea in the semis, it was a different story altogether for India as they thrashed Thailand 73-20 in their semi final match on Friday.