Asian Games 2018: Indian women lose to Iran in kabaddi, settle for silver

The two-time defending champion was shocked 24-27 in a thrilling final as the firm favourite settled for silver.

Iran's Saeideh Jafarikoochi, in red, tries to score a point as India's team defend during the women's team Kabaddi gold medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.   -  AP

Indian kabaddi would return from Jakarta without a gold for the first time since the sport was introduced at the Asian Games in 1990. On Friday, the women went down fighting 24-27 to Iran in the final, who stamped their authority by lifting the men’s title as well.

As it happened

Like the men in the semifinals, the women went into a comfortable lead early on, only to stumble and falter in the second half despite a vociferous crowd egging them on. Unlike the men, however, there was a lot more fight from the Payel Chowdhury-led team, which managed to cut down Iran’s four-point lead to one in the final minute of the game with an impressive raid by the captain.

Chowdhury, along with Randeep Kaur, was the key raider for the side, managing to keep the team within striking distance all through.

READ: Iran ends India's kabaddi dominance, former stars stunned

What let the team down were stray mistakes from the defenders who went too early for a hold but ended up conceding points. In a tight match, the little mistakes proved costly. Away from the spotlight and glitz of the Pro Kabaddi League, the women’s team came into its own here, cheered by a sporting men’s side that screamed its support all through.

“It is disappointing to miss the gold. It was a close fight but now we will go back and focus on our mistakes here, sort it out and come back stronger,” a teary-eyed Payel said. India had won both the previous editions since women’s kabaddi was included in Asian Games in 2010.

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Coach Srinivas Reddy took responsibility of the loss and shielded his players. “As the coach, I must take responsibility for our loss. Our team is good and they tried their best and fought till the very end. One team has to win and today it was their day but I am proud of my girls nevertheless,” he added.

In the men’s final, Iran demolished Korea 26-16 for gold.