2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Brilliant Ajay Thakur inspires India to 2016 Kabaddi World Cup glory - News

Brilliant Ajay Thakur inspires India to 2016 Kabaddi World Cup glory

22 October 2016

It was a fitting stage for the marquee clash of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup as the two heavyweights – India and Iran – squared off against each other. With the ultimate prize at stake, an Ajay Thakur-inspired India overcame the stiff challenge posed by their powerful opponents by a 38-29 margin. Tense and tactical with sublime moments of excellence, it was a match truly worthy of a final.

Both teams began cautiously, sizing each other up. It was the Iran defence that came to the fore early in the game as it cancelled out the threat posed by Indian raiders. The highly effective Pardeep Narwal was negated completely by Fazel Atrachali and Co. as he failed to score in the match. Ajay Thakur was also tackled by Soleiman Pahlevani as India looked short of ideas in the first half. Captain Anup Kumar held out but succumbed as Surender Nada and Mohit Chhillar delayed the inevitable all-out with a super tackle. Iran did get their all-out in the 18th minute as they went into the break looking extremely dangerous with a 5-point lead. The score then: 18-13 in favour of the visitors.

Iran skipper Meraj Sheykh was in fine form as the highly skilled raider continued to evade the Indian defence. He had clearly saved his best for last as the famed Indian defence seemed to wilt under pressure. Defensive lynchpin Manjeet Chhillar too looked off-colour as the home side made a brave decision to replace him.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first but this time, Ajay Thakur decided to take matters into his own hands. He got Sheykh and Atrachali out crucially, in a big raid, in what proved to be the turning point of the match. It spurred India to grab the lead at 21-20 as Iran found Thakur too hot to handle. Surjeet put in a few terrific tackles and substitute Nitin Tomar hassled Iran’s defence to help himself to 6 important points. Thakur completed his fifth consecutive Super 10 and finished as the top scorer of both the match and the tournament. India captain Anup Kumar communicated extensively with his raiders in the second half and it worked brilliantly for the team. He also used his experience in slowing the game when required as India never looked back after taking the lead and deservedly got their hands on the glittering trophy.

Besides the two finalists, the following awards were also handed out:

• Emerging Team of 2016 Kabaddi World Cup: Kenya

• Most Valuable Player of 2016 Kabaddi World Cup: Jang Kun Lee (Republic of Korea)

Visit our MatchCentre for the complete breakdown of the grand final.