Ajay Thakur produced another match-winning performance as India defeated Pakistan 36-22 in the final to win the gold medal at the Asian Kabaddi Championship in Gorgan, Iran on Sunday.
Sandeep Narwal returned to India's line-up in place of Mohit Chhillar after sitting out of their semi-final clash against South Korea. Coach Rambir Singh Khokkar preferred the aggressive all-rounder over Chhillar despite the latter's understanding with left corner Surender Nada. But Sandeep repaid the coach's faith with a solid performance at the right corner position and puncture Pakistan's raiding endeavours.
However, it was Thakur's raiding skills that allowed India to get off to a flying start, and throw Pakistan's plans of a revenge out of the window. The men in green were looking to make amends after they had lost to the Indians in the group stage on Saturday. The world champions, though, were showing no signs of letting up and raced to a 25-10 lead at half-time. With the match firmly under their control, India just had to keep their composure in the second-half to see off the victory.
India brought all their experience into play after the restart as Pardeep Narwal and Maninder Singh chipped in with useful raid points to support skipper Thakur. Nada, too, came into his own and made some crucial tackles to thwart Pakistani attempts of mounting a fightback.
Thakur and Co eventually closed the game with great efficiency to register a comfortable 14-point victory over their arch-rivals and be crowned Asian champions.
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Indian raiders created pressure from the start claiming three bonus points in the opening raids. The pressure of the scoreboard told as the Koreans gave away too many touch points to the raiders thereafter in an attempt to force parity in the contest.
India ended the half-strongly inflicting an all-out on the Koreans and stretching their lead to 19-12. There was no looking back for the Indians who stepped up a few gears in the second-half to completely dismantle the Korean defence.
A second all-out after the break killed the game as a contest, allowing India to cruise to a 22-point victory.
With inputs from AKFI
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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2017 20:20:42 IST