| India defenders trap a Pakistani attacker during their kabaddi match in Busan on Monday. India won 37-7. (AFP)
Busan: The Asian Games kabaddi gold is India’s as a matter of right. They have been winning it since the sport’s introduction in the Beijing edition in 1990.
There was no let-up of that domination on Monday afternoon but this one tasted slightly sweeter as it was achieved at Pakistan’s expense.
There was a large turnout at the brand new Tongmyong University Stadium where a synthetic surface has been laid for the kabaddi competition. Local fans and students, waving Indian and Pakistani flags made it an atmosphere worth going miles to experience.
Unfortunately, their wish of a hard-fought duel didn’t materialise. The Indians were far too superior, technically and tactically. They had three lonas — three-pointers for getting all seven opponents ‘out’ — en route to a 37-7 triumph.
“We were under no pressure as we knew we had a better team,” said Arjuna Awardee B.C. Ramesh, one of four who were on the gold-winning Bangkok Games team too. “The Pakistanis have improved, so have the Japanese and Bangladeshis. But we are still way ahead.”
Three months of practice on synthetic courts in Bangalore and Gandhinagar had prepared them for the competition here. The Pakistanis, on the other hand, saw a synthetic turf for the first time on arrival here.
Unfortunately, the two most striking moments of the match came off scuffles. India’s Sanjiv Kumar was left with a bloody and swollen nose after clashing with Badshah Gul. Sanjiv couldn’t take any further part in the game and had to be taken for a precautionary X-ray.
The other incident was more serious with Ramesh Kumar and Muhammad Latif almost on the verge of trading blows after the Indian had been provoked despite withdrawing from a ‘raid’ unscathed. It needed a prompt intervention by Pakistan coach Muhammad Sarwar to defuse the tension.
India added a bronze to their tally courtesy Palwinder Singh Cheema. He got the medal in the 120 kg category.
Geet Sethi moved into the final of the billiards singles beating Myanmar’s Oo Kyaw U 2-1. He had earlier overcome Thai Udon Khaimuk and Pakistani Hussain Khalil.
Jaspal Rana disappointed again at the Masan shooting range. He shot 581 in the 25mcentrefire pistol to finish fifth.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the top seeds, moved into the last eight conceding one game to Pakistani pair Rashid Malik and Aqeel Khan. This was their first match together since May when they won the Mallorca Open ATP title.
The other Indians had equally straightforward victories — Sunil Kumar and Rohan Bopanna in the men’s singles, Nirupama Vaidyanathan and Sania Mirza in the women’s singles and Bhupathi-Manisha Malhotra in the mixed doubles.
Bhutia arrival Wednesday
Meanwhile, the entire football squad barring manager Santo Mitra and four players (Bijen Singh, S. Venkatesh, Monitombi Singh and Tomba Singh) left for Seoul on Monday. They’ll reach Delhi on Tuesday night. Bhaichung Bhutia and the other Calcutta players will take the morning flight the next day.