The Asian Kabaddi Championships 2017 kicked off in Gorgan, Iran on Friday as arch-rivals India and Pakistan both picked up comfortable wins in their opening encounters of the competition.
India were up against Iraq in their first match of the group stages and recorded a clinical performance to take a 61-21 win, despite a few lapses in concentration in the second half. They are the favourites to take the title this time around and their attack was lead by Ajay Thakur, along with Rahul Chaudhari and Maninder Singh being the other two raiders.
In defence, it was the familiar pairing of Surender Nada and Mohit Chhillar manning the corners, while Surjeet played in the cover position.
India went off to a flying start in the match, notching up points successively in both attack and defence. The Iraqi defence initially had no answer to India's expansive battery of raiders, who picked up points with ease. It was plain sailing for the World Cup winners in the first 20 minutes as they raced into a big lead and allowed Iraq to score just three points. At the end of the first half, the scoreboard read a scarcely believable 30-3.
In the second half, the Indians were comfortable throughout and but did not display the same level of domination. They allowed the Iraqi raiders some easy touch points and were even down to three defenders at one point of time. However, they held on easily and finished the match at 61-21.
In another match in the group, Pakistan defeated Japan in their opening fixture. After a tense start that featured a super raid from a Japanese raider, the side from Pakistan recovered well and took charge of the game, eventually running out 57-19 winners.