Putting up yet another superlative show, India thrashed Iran 44-26 to emerge champions of the six-nation Kabaddi Masters Dubai, in Dubai on Saturday.
In a battle between the top two sides of the world, the three-time world champions did not give Iran any ground to recover with captain Ajay Thakur (nine points) and youngster Monu Goyat (six) leading the raid charts.
India inflicted two all-outs on Iran, en route the massive victory. The final had its share of hiccups as lights went off, disrupting the match for 10 minutes in the first half, while in the second half Iran captain Amirhossein Maleki, who came in as a substitute, claimed “rough play” by the Indians but referee dismissed the protests.
Both the teams last met in the World Cup 2016 final in Ahmedabad with Thakur playing a key role in handing them a slender nine-point victory.
Having given the captaincy baton in this Asian Games build-up meet, Thakur was all over the mat with his superb raiding skills. India’s defence was also excellent with Surjeet Singh returning with seven tackle points.
The captain drew the first blood with a running touch to send Mohammad Naseri to the bench. India however lost the early momentum after the power disruption to slip from being 15-5 to 18-11 at the break.
The biggest positive for Iran in the closing stage of first-half was when they were able to evict Thakur with Mohammad Maghsoudlou’s fine attempt.
But they could not keep Thakur away as India once again forced their way back after the changeover, displaying top-class raiding as well as defensive skills. India coach Srinivas Reddy gave young Goyat a start in place of a lacklustre Pradeep Narwal.
Iran however took a bold decision to keep captain Amirhossein Maleki out of the team as both the teams made one change each. The six-nation invitational tournament was organised by International Kabaddi Federation in association with Star Sports and Dubai Sports Council.