India’s nearly unchallenged domination of the Asian Games kabaddi competition ended on Thursday with the men’s team failing to make the final for the first time, left shell-shocked and battered by an ever-improving Iran in the semifinals in Jakarta.
For the first time in its history, India ended with a bronze medal in its indigenous sport. The 18-27 loss, which left some in the Indian camp in tears, and others stone-faced, ended a reign of domination dates back to the 1990 Asiad. It was a nightmare that unfolded for India at Theatre Garuda where the Iranians played like champions and India seemed completely out of sorts.
The two teams were neck and neck at the end of the first half. But the Iranians sped away to a mini lead in the second half and that set the pulse racing in the Indian camp.
Thereafter, the Indians imploded as they looked desperate for points both in attack and defence. Iran made full use of India’s desperation for points and took a massive lead to take a vice-like grip on the match.
Iran scored a total of 18 points in the second half to make it through to the finals of the Asian Games for the third straight time. They had settled for the silver medal on the last two occasions after losing to India in the final.