LAHORE: Pakistan emerged victorious from a close contest against India in the final of the Kabaddi World Cup on Sunday in Lahore's Punjab Stadium. The hosts won 43-41 to become Kabaddi world champions for the first time.
Pakistan won the toss and decided to raid first. In the beginning, India was leading and maintained the margin of a couple of points until the first session was over.
The contest between the South Asian neighbours remained neck-on-neck throughout the allotted time, two sessions of 20 minutes each with a break of five minutes.
Towards the end of the match, Indian team’s coach Harpreet Singh raised objection to a point scored by Malik Binyameen but the referee overruled.
Binyameen, along with Irfan Mana and Shafiq Chishti, proved to be too heavy for their Indian counterparts as the three played a significant role in the win.
After the match, the winning side completed a lap of honour around the stadium. A huge number of spectators came to watch the final between the arch-rivals. After the match ended, spectators lifted Pakistan players on to their shoulders, dancing to the beat of drums.
The match was attended by several dignitaries of the Punjab government.
Pakistan and India had yesterday defeated Iran and Australia, respectively, to reach the final.
This is the first time the Kabaddi World Cup was held in Pakistan. All of the previous six circle-style kabaddi world cups have been hosted by India with the most recent event taking place in 2016. The tournament was eight-day long with matches in Lahore, Faisalabad, Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib.
Other than India, teams from Iran, Canada, Australia, United States, Sierra Leone and Kenya also participated in the event.
The winning side completed a lap across the stadium after the match as the stadium cheered them on, while congratulatory messages poured in from players, politicians and fans.
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the team for winning the Kabbadi World Cup.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar hailed Pakistan's victory as "well deserved". In a tweet, Buzdar said: "Wonderful game of Kabaddi and well deserved victory by Team Pakistan. Congratulations to every Pakistani celebrating this win today."
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan congratulated team Pakistan "upon beating India in the World Cup Final of Kabaddi". PTI leader Jahangir Tareen also congratulated Pakistan on their "historic win".