Ahmedabad: India and Iran won their respective semi-finals to enter the final of the Kabaddi World Cup here on Friday.
The hosts made short work of Thailand, crushing them 73-20 to enter their third consecutive World Cup final in style, while Iran came from behind to overpower a spirited South Korea 28-22.
The Indians thus kept on track to win their third successive World Cup title.
Saturday’s final at the TransStadia Arena will be a clash between the two strongest nations in world kabaddi who have a similar style of play. Both teams have a power based game although the Indians are superior in technique.
Iran, who also entered their third consecutive final, had lost to India in the previous two finals and will eye revenge.
India dominated right from the start and dominated Thailand in both offence and defence. The Thai players found the Indians’ style a bit too rough too handle with a couple of their players sustaining injuries while one had to leave the match and seek medical attention.
India’s Pardeep Narwal scored 14 points and had a terrific game.
Skipper Anup Kumar opened India’s account with a trademark bonus point in the first minute. Manjeet Chhillar scored his team’s first tackle point in the third minute as India led 4-0 after three minutes.
Khomsan Thangkham scored Thailand’s first point in the fourth minute. Ajay Thakur and Pardeep Narwal scored two points apiece in the first five minutes as India led 7-1. India inflicted the first all but in the seventh minute to lead 11-2.
Thailand were struggling to match India’s intensity and with Pardeep Narwal looking in imperious form, India led 15-3 after nine minutes. Thailand were reduced to just two men in the 11th minute as India took a commanding 19-3 lead.
An all out was duly inflicted by India in the 13th minute as India led 23-3.
It was turning out be a fairly one-sided affair and as Thailand had no answer to India’s attack nor could they handle the defence as the hosts inflicted five all outs on their opponents by the 26th minute.
Thailand finally managed to score their first point of the second half after eight minutes. In the next minute, Narwal was tackled for the first time as Thailand hit double figures and trailed 10-55.
Nitin Tomar produced a super raid in the 30th minute as India led 58-10 and were toying with Thailand defence. A sixth all out followed in the next minute as Surender Nada achieved a high five to give India 62-10 lead.
Earlier, in a thrilling contest, Iran held their nerve to oust South Korea in a keenly fought contest.
After a slow start, South Korea started dominating Iran and inflicted the first all out of the match in the 12th minute to lead 10-4.
Iran’s mighty defence wasn’t able to handle Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) star Jang Kun Lee as he scored three raid points in the first 13 minutes.
The Koreans led 12-6 after 15 minutes as their defence did a fine job containing Iranian raiders.
Iran began the second half strongly as they inflicted an all out in the 22nd minute to level the game at 15-15.
They started playing a physical, aggressive style from thereon and opened up a 19-15 lead by the 25th minute.
Iran never looked back from there and held their nerve to enter the final.