India stormed into the semi-finals of the Kabaddi Masters Dubai with a thumping 41-17 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan to stretch their winning run in the competition to three games. Rohit Kumar set the tone with an early super raid before Ajay Thakur, Rishank Devadiga and Monu Goyat joined the party to complete the demolition job.
India’s second win over Pakistan within a space of three days highlighted the gulf between the two teams on the kabaddi mat. India excelled in every department while Pakistan were found wanting.
The win also guarantees India the top spot in Group A irrespective of their result against Kenya. Pakistan, meanwhile, will have to beat the Africans in their final game to be assured of a place in the semi-final against Group B winners Iran.
As India continued their dominance over Pakistan, here are the takeaways from the encounter.
India’s raiding might shines through
Twenty five out of the 41 points India scored were acquired by its raiders. Ajay Thakur, Rishank Devadiga, Monu Goyat and Rohit Kumar all bagged a high five in the game to completely dismantle the Pakistan defence. After two initial empty raids, Rohit got India underway with a smart point, where he teased Nasir Ali into making a slightly advanced tackle. Moments later, he dealt a heavy blow to Pakistan’s defence when he scored the super raid to leave the men in green vulnerable to an all-out.
Rohit ended the first half with five points before being substituted in the 27th minute of the game. His replacement Goyat offered no respite for Pakistan as he notched up seven raid points by the time referee signalled for full time. Devadiga was India’s go-to man for do-or-die raids where he caused Pakistan plenty of damage. He ended the night with six raid points to his name, taking his tally in the competition to 20 raid points.
“We have the world’s best raiders in our team. We have given them license to go for points in every raid. Our defence is strong enough to revive them if they fail. I am pleased with the way our raiders have played in this tournament,” coach Srinivas Reddy said after the game.
No team has been able to sustain the three-pronged Indian attack. The variety of raiders at India’s disposal makes it very difficult for any defence to settle into a particular defensive approach, making it very difficult for teams to keep the scoring under check.
Pakistan’s faltering veterans
Pakistan’s defensive mainstays Nasir Ali and Wasim Sajjad were expected to lead the team’s charge in the competition. But the duo has failed to live up to the hype in Dubai. Against India, Pakistan’s corners had a real tough time as Indian raiders proved too quick and clever for them.
Sajjad and Ali only managed a single point between them. The duo’s failure meant there was too much pressure on the team’s raiders to score points against a full pack of Indian players. Muhammad Nadeem and Mudassar Ali did well to score 10 points between them, but their efforts fell way short of what Pakistan needed at the time.
Pakistan have struggled to remain competitive in their two matches against India, and a lot of that is down to the form of their defensive veterans Sajjad and Ali. If Pakistan are to upset the odds and reach the final of a major event again, their defence will have to show improvement. The performances of Sajjad and Ali are key to the team’s chances.
PKL stalwarts struggle to get a look-in
Indian team is full of big names from the Pro Kabaddi League. However, if the all-time scoring charts are anything to go by, Rahul Chaudhari (666) and Pardeep Narwal (625) are a league above the rest in terms of raid points scored over the course of the league’s brief history. Similarly, Manjeet Chhillar (243), Surender Nada (218) and Sandeep Narwal (213) are the all-time top scoring defenders of the league.
All these players have struggled to get a prolonged run in this Indian team at the Kabaddi Masters. Chaudhari, Nada and Pardeep haven’t featured since the opening game against Pakistan. Narwal has seen action in bursts, but he hasn’t been anywhere close to the energetic all-rounder he is for his PKL teams. Manjeet Chhillar, the most experienced player in the Indian squad hasn’t got a minute under his belt in Dubai.
Their absence in the team against Pakistan barely mattered and those on the mat helped India cruise to a comfortable win. The game against Kenya could offer these PKL stalwarts a chance to regain their place in the side, but pushing the current lot on the side will take some doing.
India’s young brigade led by Ajay Thakur have already surpassed expectations, and as coach Reddy often puts it, “India’s future is very bright”.
Updated Date: Jun 26, 2018 12:55:00 IST