India suffered a massive upset in kabaddi, a sport which made it to the international arena from the mudfields of this country, at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia’s Palembang when it lost to a spunky South Korea 23-24. Though the team had feared Iran which was second-ranked after India, the South Koreans are said to have capitalised on the overconfidence and complacency of the Indian team.
The unexpected defeat has sent shockwaves to fans who were upbeat about Indian kabaddi team’s chances ahead of the clash. The Indian side is to face Thailand, which is ranked 4th in world rankings, on Tuesday and after the abysmal performance, it is anybody’s guess now as to who is going to win the final group game tomorrow.
India was coming off from a sensational winning-streak having beaten Bangladesh 50-21 and Sri Lanka 44-28 in the previous battles. And without a shred of doubt, India’s gigantic displays had sent shivers down the South Korean team’s spine which were to face them in the next fixture.
However, the giant in India turned out to be a Goliath slayed by the underdog David. Why is the recent loss such a big deal? Because the Indian kabaddi team leads world rankings with absolute authority and by a good distance. Iran, which is second, has 90 points against India’s 126 in the rankings.
The world kabaddi rankings manifest the supremacy that India enjoys in the sport. If not the founding fathers, India certainly has been the prime propagator of kabaddi since the beginning. It is unreal to think that a country which possibly might have taught the world how to play a sport that is played all over it, be it the North or the South, will lose to a foreign participant.
The defeat is similar to the gains made by European and Australian sides in hockey post World War 2. Though they were aided by the introduction of astroturf, the Europeans and the Aussies adopted a fast-paced, physical game that outclassed Indian hockey and left it in a funk it is yet to recover from despite flashes of extraordinary brilliance.