Now women lose to Iran

Now women lose to Iran

THE BIG MOMENT: Iranian players celebrate after defeating India in the women's kabaddi final in Jakarta on Friday. PTI

Glum faces were too many to count at the Theatre Garuda on Friday.

The small arena was packed with Indian fans, cheering, waving flags and egging their players on in the women’s final of the Asian Games kabaddi against Iran. 

No amount of cheering could change the fortunes of the Indian team, though, as Iran overpowered them 27-24 to clinch the gold medal in a tense title decider.

It was total humiliation for India as their men’s team had crashed in the semifinal, also to Iran, on Thursday. A silver and a bronze from a sport in which they had an uninterrupted run till now is a setback from which it will take some time to recover. 

The Indian women were champions in 2014 and 2010 when the category was introduced to the programme. This time, they were reduced to tears by Iran, who were fitter, stronger and hungrier than them.

Indian coach Srinivasa Reddy rued the loss of momentum in the first half. “We started well and were leading also. One mistake gave them a chance to get back and we lost the momentum. Some umpiring decisions also went against us. It was not our day,” said Indian coach Srinivasa Reddy.

“Definitely I am disappointed. We wanted to complete a hat-trick. Couldn’t execute the plans properly. There were mistakes in defence while our raiders also erred in crucial times. Iran also came up with some unexpected catches,” he said.

India did start well with Payel Chaudhari fetching them the first point. The defending champions then surged to 6-2 but Iran hit back strongly and it was anybody’s game with the score 13-11 at half-time in favour of India. 

In the second half, there was a complete turnaround as Iran notched six points in a row to lead 17-13, continuing from where they left off nearing the end of the first half, and inflicting an all-out on India.

With Iran defending well, the Indian raiders Payal Chaudhary and Randeep Kaur hardly fetched them any points but they saw some light when Sedigheh Jafari was taken down and the gap reduced to 19-21.

Payal again fell into the Iranian net as they widened the lead to 24-20 soon after and with the clock ticking down, tension mounted in the Indian camp.

With two minutes remaining, Sakshi Kumar produced a successful raid and earned a bonus point too to make it 24-25. But desperation got the better of her as Iran tackled her successfully in her next raid to hoist the winning lead. 


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