LAHORE Sports Reporter: Archrivals Pakistan and India set up mouthwatering Kabaddi World Cup 2020 title clash following their convincing victories in their semifinal matches against Iran and Australia respectively here at the Punjab Stadium on Saturday.
The final between Pakistan and India will be played at the same venue today (Sunday) under floodlights. India outclassed Australia by 42-32 in the first semifinal while Pakistan overwhelmed strong Iranian kabaddi team by 52-30 in the second semifinal. At the end of the match, Pakistan’s Waqas Butt was declared the best raider and Sajjad Gujjar was the best stopper.
Punjab Minister for Sports, Youth Affairs and Tourism Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti was the chief guest of Kabaddi World Cup 2020 semifinal matches. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh, President Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) Ch Shafay Hussain, PKF Secretary Rana Sarwar and other officials were also present on the occasion. Punjab Sports Minister Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti and Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh distributed prizes among top performers of the semifinals.
Pakistan was tested by Iran in the second semifinal, but experienced players of the host team won the encounter to set up final with India. Pakistan team was pushed to the back foot in the initial stages of the match. Iran took lead with every raid. They went into neck and neck till 66 but from there on Pakistan went ahead in the points and increased with regular sequence. By the end of the first 20 minutes play, Pakistan fought back to lead 29-17 while in the second half, Pakistan tightened their grip on the match and managed to reach the final for the fifth time. Skipper Irfan Mana led from the front and made several successful raids for his team. He was ably supported by his players Akmal Shahzad Dogar, Sajid Gujjar, and Binyameen Malik. Akmal thrilled the spectators with elusive jumps and getting away from the clutches of the Iran stoppers. For Iran team, Mustafa Saadqi, M Farazi and Ameer Muhammadi remained top point scorers. Iranian raiders tried their best to break Pakistan’s control on the match but Pakistan raiders foiled their attempts quite effectively and won the match with a clear margin. The first half ended at 1729. Both the teams demonstrated equally magnificent fight and kept the pressure on each other.
Earlier in the first semifinal, defending champion India took control of the match right from the beginning against Australia. India in its seventh World Cup semi-final, showed its supremacy with every raid. The men in blue maintained their dominance in both the halves as they led the first 20 minutes at 28-14. India was given lead in the match over Australia by Khatri, Ravi Deora and Malvinder Singh Mala. Australia grabbed four back to back points in the second half of the match. They displayed much improved game after the breather but India’s grip on the match remained intact throughout the encounter. Finally India booked a place in the final after win over Australia in the first semifinal. After the match, World Kabaddi Federation President Dr Abbas handed the World Cup trophy to Pakistan Kabaddi Federation, which will be given to the winner today (Sunday).