AHMEDABAD: South Korea stunned favourites India on Friday, pulling off a thrilling 34-32 win in the opening match of the Kabaddi World Cup before shocked home fans.
The Indians raced to an early lead in the combative contact sport that mixes tag and wrestling, but the Koreans rallied to overpower the defending champions.
The packed stadium was stunned into silence as the Indians failed to hold on to their narrow three-point lead in the closing minutes of the match.
“Our raiders weren’t at their best today. We also made some mistakes at the end and that proved crucial,” a dejected Indian captain Anup Kumar said after the game. “But not everything is lost yet. We will get back into the competition and correct our mistakes.”
The two-week event which will see 12 teams lock horns with each other is being held in India’s western city of Ahmedabad.
Kabaddi features two seven-member teams facing off on a tennis court-sized pitch.
A “raider” from each team has to dash into the rival half and touch players from the opposing team without being tackled before escaping back to safety on their side of the court.
The game is played in around 35 countries, but India has traditionally dominated the sport, winning all seven gold medals at the Asian Games since it was introduced in 1990.
Pakistan, another strong team, were barred from the ongoing competition due to a spike in tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.