Kabaddi World Cup 2016: A handy guide to the format, rules and how the sport works - Firstpost
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Kabaddi World Cup 2016: A handy guide to the format, rules and how the sport works

The Kabaddi World Cup 2016 is upon us, and it will be hosted by India, in Ahmedabad. The promos for it on TV, newspapers and streets might have already caught your eye. The tournament is highly significant for the sport as it returns after a gap of seven years, with a new lease of life. The success of the franchise-based Pro Kabaddi League has been at the heart of a huge turnaround in the fortunes for the sport – not just in terms of popularity, but also in terms of sustainance, professionalism and organisation. With several celebrities putting their money in the game, it's fair to say that kabaddi is now not just rural Indian sport, but a global business.

Very few times in sport do tweaks and changes in the original format of the game work out perfectly, but with kabaddi, the revamped rules and format were an instant hit. With added factors that made the game more engaging and entertaining, it hardly comes as the surprise the new edition of the Kabaddi World Cup will follow the same format that the Pro Kabaddi League so successfully pioneered.

For all those wondering how to go about following the sport and the upcoming World Cup,  here is guide to all the rules, terms and how the game works.

How kabaddi works?

A game of kabaddi is a forty-minute affair where two teams try to outscore each other by getting the opponent players out, either through a raid or a tackle. The team with the most number of points at the end of the forty minutes is declared the winner. A kabaddi team typically consists of raiders and defenders. During a raid, a player enters the opponent's half, tries to touch an opposing player and escape back into his side's half. The number of defenders the raider touches corresponds to the number of points the raider's team earns. In addition, the raider can also score a point by crossing the bonus line. However if the raider is caught by the opposition team, they win the point.

The player who gets out, goes off court until his team wins a point to revive him. Every point won by a team helps it revive a lost member (unless it already has a full quota of players on field.) Similarly, the team that loses a point, loses it's player. The number of revivals corresponds to the number of points a team earns.

If any of the players go outside the court (cross the end line) during a raid, those players are out irrespective of the way the raid pans out. However, once a touch is made by the raider on a defender, the whole of a player's body must go off the field for the player to be ruled as out. This applies for both the raider and the defenders.

When all players of the team get out, an all-out is inflicted on that team. The game doesn't end for that team there, as the full quota of players from the team are restored to the court and the game proceeds. This goes on till the end of the forty minutes.

Field of play

The field of play in kabaddi consists of the playing court and the surrounding area. The court where the action takes place measures 13x10 metres, and is divided into two parts by the half line. The two competing teams take guard in each half. The other components of the court consist of the baulk lines, bonus lines, lobbies and the end lines. The end lines mark the court area that is in a rectangular shape and measure the length and breadth of the court

The baulk lines (one each in one half) are parallel to the shorter end line. A raider who enters the opponent half has to cross the baulk line to legitimise his raid. While the bonus line, also parallel to the shorter end line, and is placed between the end line and baulk line. The bonus line is deeper in the half as compared to the baulk line, and hence it's not mandatory for the raider to cross it to make his raid legal. It just serves as an incentive for the raider to gain an extra point and thus pushing him to take extra risk.

The lobbies are narrow rectangular sections along the longer end lines that stretch on either side of the half line. The lobbies are differentiated from the rest of the court by its distinct yellow colour. The lobbies only come into play after a raider touches an opponent defender and triggers a struggle.

Team Formation

Each team consist of seven starting players and five substitute players. The seven players line up on the court in a typical fashion. The two widest players are called corner players (right and left corners), they are specialist defenders. The players immediately besides the corner defenders are called 'ins'. The top raiders of the team usually play in this position. In the centre, there are two cover players (right and left) and these are occupied by two defenders. The center-most player is called as centre and that's where the team's all-rounder takes guard.

However, the team doesn't always retain the typical formation and lines up different formations according to the raider and match situation. The formation of full seven players usually consists of one isolated players and three chains of two players each. The formations and the chains become further flexible as the number of players on the court reduces.

What is a raid?

A raid begins when a player enters opponent's half. It lasts for thirty second within which the raider has to try and score a point – either a touch point or bonus point – and return back to his half. Failure to return within 30 seconds, rules the raider as out.

For a raider to win a bonus point, he has to ensure he crosses the bonus line with in his leg. But while his outstretched leg touches the area between the bonus line and the end line, his trailing leg must not be in contact with the ground to win  the bonus point.

In the case, if a raider returns without scoring any point, no point is scored by either team and its deemed as an empty raid.

If a team has two consecutive empty raids, then its raider in the next raid has to score a point. If he doesn't, then he's ruled as out. Quite aptly it's called the 'do-or-die' raid'. So a team can't have three empty raids in a row. A do-or-die raid, thus, often serves as a turning point in the game.

Apart from the bread-and-butter stuff of winning points, a raider also has to follow few more mandatory aspects. He has to chant 'kabaddi kabaddi' loudly and clearly throughout the course of the raid. It's called the cant. If the raider fails to cant at anytime during the raid, he's ruled as out and the opponent gets the point. In addition, the raider must also cross the baulk line to legitimise his raid.

Special events and terms

A Super Raid happens when a raider scores three or more points in a single raid. Both touch points and bonuses are included in it.

Super Tackle is when a raider is caught by the the opponent who has just three or less defenders left on court. In case of a super tackle, the defending team gets an additional point apart from the point from the tackle. However, it only revives one lost member, despite the number of points earned is two. A super tackle serves teams in a spot of bother, giving them a good chance to comeback in the encounter, thus keeping the game in the balance.

Various kabaddi moves have typical names. Toe touch, scorpion kick, frog jump, ankle hold and blocks are a few moves that one needs to get acquainted with to watch the kabaddi world cup.

The game of kabaddi is very fast and new viewers will require a few games to to get used to how its played. To make it simpler, make sure you have this explainer handy when you sit down to watch the World Cup opener when India takes on South Korea on 7 October.

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