Kabaddi World Cup 2016 | Preview : India look set to defend title

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Kabaddi World Cup 2016 | Preview : India look set to defend title

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SportsCafe Desk


While most Indian sports fans are celebrating the cricket team's rise to No.1 in Tests, India will be preparing to defend its title in a sport we have been dominating since its inception. As the 2016 Kabaddi Word Cup kicks off on Oct 7th, India are aiming to secure a hattrick of World titles.

With the success of the Pro Kabaddi League(PKL), the sport has managed to attract a new fan base, but it still has not managed to fight its way into the “big sports”. With the World Cup “raiding” off tomorrow, we have a look at the tournament and India’s preparation ahead of the tournament.

Teams Competing

The third edition of the Kabaddi World Cup (not to be confused with the circle format) returns after a gap of nine years, with few Indian players still a part of the National team setup. The tournament is played between 12 teams split into two two groups with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals of the event.

India have been drawn with South Korea, England, Australia, Argentina and Bangladesh. On the other side of the draw, Iran, the biggest threat to India’s dominance, will play political rivals USA, Kenya, Japan, Thailand and Poland. Iran, who have ended up on the wrong side of the previous two finals, will be gunning for revenge as they make their way to the birthplace of the sport.

Pool A Pool B
India Iran
South Korea United States of America
England  Kenya
Austrailia Japan
Argentina Thialand
Bangladesh Poland

India will start their campaign against South Korea, the toughest opponent in the group, on the 7th in the opening game with the latter boasting of stars such as Seong Ryeol Kim and Jang Kun Lee. Australia will post the challenge the very next day before the team get a couple of days off before facing off with sub-continental rivals Bangladesh.

India will lock horns with Argentina next on the 15th of October before facing the English contingent in the group match on the 18th.

If India, who are favourites to top the group, match the billing, then they will face the second-placed team in the other group, which is likely to be either Japan or Thialand.

The winner will play for it all in the final on October 22nd.

Key Indian Players

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1. Anup Kumar

The Captain of the Kabaddi team is now 32 and one of the best players India has ever produced. His unnatural calm in high-pressure situations has earned him the nickname “Captain Cool” of the Kabaddi team. In the PKL, he captains the U Mumba team, who won the second edition of the tournament under his guidance. The MVP of the first PKL season plays as a right raider and his two Asian Games gold medals will hold him in good stead as he steps onto the mat against South Korea.

2. Manjeet Chhillar

The former wrestler has been handed the vice-captaincy for the tournament and having skippered the Bengaluru Bulls and the Puneri Paltan he should not face any problems in slipping into the role. On the mat, the 30-year-old functions as an all-rounder being highly effective in the offensive and defensive positions.

3. Rahul Chaudhari

When you have just scored 146 points through raids in the last edition of the PKL and a total of 500 points in just 57 games, you are the player everyone will focus on when you pull on the Indian jersey. The poster boy of Indian Kabaddi has taken stardom in his stride, but he has never let it impact his performances on the mat. If I was a betting man, Rahul Chaudhari would be my pick for most points in the World Cup.

4. Sandeep Narwal

Sandeep Narwal is India’s man of steel who has made a name for himself with his strong full body tackles that have seen him earn 161 tackle points for his teams in the PKL. The 22-year-old is classified as a defensive all-rounder because of 171 raid points in just 62 games in the League. He played an instrumental role in securing the PKL title for Patna in the third season and was rewarded with the Best Defender award.

Opponents to watch out for

South Korea

The South Koreans are the biggest threat to India in the group stages with players like Jang Kun Lee and Seong Ryeol Kim among their ranks.

The South Korean duo, who have been a part of the Pro Kabaddi League, have had an immense impact on their respective teams with Lee accumulating an impressive 262 points in just 52 matches. Having played with and against the Indian players, they would be well versed in the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.


Iran have been India’s biggest rivals in Kabaddi when it comes to the big stage, reaching the final twice only to lose to a superior Indian side.

This time, however, they land on Indian soil with a team that has a great mix of youth and experience and have players who have played in the Pro Kabaddi League alongside their Indian counterparts.

Fazel Atrachali, Meraj Sheykh, Hadi Oshtorak and Abolfazel Maghsodlou are the main threat to India’s hattrick hopes with Fazel having scored 95 points in defensive positions in just 32 matches.

Meraj and Abolfazel, on the other hand, have been impressive as well scoring 161 and 25 points respectively with the latter getting his points in just 12 matches.

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