2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Road to the semis: Minus Polish blip, Iran has dominated - Features

Road to the semis: Minus Polish blip, Iran has dominated

20 October 2016

Iran came into the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup as the second favourites behind hosts India. They have looked the part for most of the campaign apart from a disappointing loss to Poland in their final league encounter. Their defence has been simply intimidating, almost bullying the opposition at times with Fazel Atrachali and Soleiman Pahlevani being prime examples of that.

Led ably by Meraj Sheykh, the Iranians too have looked to perform collectively rather than rely on a few individuals. 

We take a look at the Iranians’ journey to the semi-finals of the tournament (4 wins, 1 loss):

USA - no match!

USA are new to the sport and underwent a baptism by fire against a strong Iran side. The Iranians were in no mood to show any favours as they comprehensively beat the Americans 52-15 without breaking a sweat.

Powering past Thailand

Thailand were supposed to be the tricky opposition who could trouble Iran. Instead, they emphatically downed the Thais by a 64-23 margin as the Iranians flexed their muscles in the game.

Taming Kenya

Kenya were newcomers but a fast improving side as they threatened to take Iran to the wire with their speed and power before the game. Meraj Sheykh’s side though were unfazed as they went about taming the African lions in a professional manner. They did seem to take their foot off the pedal in the final few minutes as the Kenyans fought back, but eventually came out winning 33-28.

Beating the Samurais

Once again, the Iranians were guilty of letting their opponents off the hook as Japan made a comeback into the match after being outplayed in the first half. Iran dominated for a majority of the match and their experience made sure that it ended 38-34 in their favour.

A Polish shock

Another newcomer, Poland came into this match with nothing to lose and had just one win in the tournament prior to this game. Iran was surprisingly flat and played without any intensity to go down 25-41 to Poland in the biggest upset of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.

Defensively, Iran have been very tough, bullying at times even. Their raiding could have been better though and have yet to get out of second gear. One can't help but get the feeling that the best from Iran is yet to come and the stage is all set for them to explode against Republic of Korea in the first semi-final on October 21.