Kabaddi: Iranian women stun India as defending champions settle for silver


The Indian women's kabaddi team settled for silver at the Asian Games as they got defeated 27-24 against Iran in a cat-and-mouse chase in the gold medal match at the Asian Games on Friday.

With this, the women's team lost the gold for the first time since 2010 -- the year the women's event got introduced at the Games.

Coming a day after India's surprise defeat against Iran in the men's competition, the women looked confident from the go as they scored two quick points in the first two minutes to take a lead. The defence was strong, as Ritu Negi from the right corner, used her signature ankle holds to stop the Iranian raiders to make a mark. Iranian raider Saeideh Jafarikoochi posed a threat to the Indian team with her deceptive raids as Iran reduced the gap to one point at 7-6. The Iranian defence looked good, as they reduced India to four members with their brilliant blocks, taking out captain Payel Chowdhuri and first-choice raider Sonali Shingate. With three minutes to go for half-time, Negi struck again to give India a lease of hope when they were at the brink of an all-out. A two-point raid from Randeep Kaur after that put India back in a dominant position at 13-8. However, a fumble ensued with Saeiedeh's two-point raid soon after as the momentum shifted to Iran right at half-time.

Leading by two points at 13-11, India began their second half shakily as Sonali was blocked by Iranian defenders. Iran took a lead for the first time in the match -- followed by an all-out -- at 17-13 soon after. India then got a point back with Randeep's raid, their first in the opening three and a half minutes of the second half. With 10 minutes to go, India trailed 18-16 as Sonali scored a quick bonus point. Payel looked relentless as she scored another raid point, but Iran remained ahead with a steady defence to maintain a lead at 21-18.

India seemed to struggle with their defence, giving away raid points to the Iranian raiders -- in contrast to Iran, for whom defence was the strong point as they continued to lead at 23-20. With just about a minute to go, Sakshi Kumari turned it around for the team by scoring a three-point raid to lessen the gap to 24-25. However, it wasn't enough as the Iranian defence quickly came back to take two more points to eventually claim the top title.