Indian men edge past Pak in thriller

Indian men edge past Pak in thriller

The Indian kabaddi teams scored contrasting wins to complete a grand double at the 12th South Asian Games here at the RG Baruah Sports Complex on Monday.

While the women had a walk in the park, outclassing a clueless Bangladesh 36-12, the men’s team were pushed hard by a tenacious Pakistan before prevailing 9-7, bringing to the fore their big match experience as the raucous crowd lapped up every bit of the entertainment.

Undisputed champions at the Asian level, the Indian men were prepared for a strong fight from Pakistan as they had faced them earlier, during a 9-8 group phase victory. With a lot hinging on this match and a few key players missing owing to their commitments in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League, the Indians made a cautious start.

Dark horses Pakistan, who could have chosen to start the match in high intensity that may have forced the Indians to change their tactics, opted for the wait and watch approach. Their lack of confidence in every raid was very evident and the Indians just went about their job in a very methodical manner.

The opening half, despite offering several moments of thrill, didn’t see either team make a spectacular raids or catches. The teams deservedly broke for halftime at 5-5.

Having won several such close matches, the Indians pounced on an unsuspecting Pakistan soon after the resumption to hit the front and dominate proceedings. Skipper and star raider Anup Kumar, who has shone in multiple Indian wins, scored a point with the very first raid of the second half to open up a marginal lead.

Rohit Kumar too made another successful raid soon after, and the stung Pakistanis looked bewildered. Anup then handed the hosts a commanding 8-5 lead and with nine minutes the Indians increased it to 9-5 after grabbing hold of raider Abrar Khan.

Pakistan, however, refused to throw in the towel and narrowed that gap to 7-9 after trapping Rohit. The Indian then tightened their defences and forced Pakistan to come at them. With every raid, the primary focus was on running down the clock.

Pakistan, lacking a fiery raider in their ranks, struggled to force the pace. The Indians, well aware of that, just played out a methodical game to grab another gold.

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