Kabaddi World Cup : Yet To Come Of Age
Kabaddi League has been a huge hit in India with day after day producing nail-biting matches and thus being largely unpredictable. Given the precedence of several fantastic ProKabaddi Seasons, there were huge expectations from Kabaddi World Cup 2016 Ahmedabad. However, the tournament has failed to leave a mark, in fact left the audience in me badly disappointed. Only 4 teams, maybe 5 seemed to know ‘how to tackle’. All others were dancing around the court trying to get a vague touch on the opponent.
Two metrics demonstrate the lameness of the tournament are
1. Total Points Scored / Match was way too high to qualify as Kabaddi
All 60 PKL matches had less than 80 points scored compared to only 50% of World Cup Matches
Matches % (Y axis) vs Total Points Scored (X axis). Total Points scored in World Cup vs PKL S4.
ProKabaddi Season 4 (PKL S4) was a relatively high scoring season. Since all teams were assembled in the auctions that happened in May 2016, the defense did not seem totally in sync and raiders took advantage of this fact with 3 raiders scoring 100+ points. Inspite of it being a high scoring tournament the total points scored in every match was less than 80 compared to only 50% of World Cup matches.
High scoring Kabaddi matches don’t necessarily mean an exciting match. Often high scoring matches just mean toothless tackling ability. In fact, the match between Australia and Argentina saw a whopping 113 points scored, an average 1.2 points scored every raid – just doesn’t make any Kabaddi sense. As suspected, Australia and Argentina are two of the weakest teams in the tournament.
2. Total Point Difference / Match was too high
50% of the matches in PKL S4 had a measly point difference of less than 5, compared to just 15% matches in the World Cup
Matches % (Y axis) vs Point Difference (X axis).
If total points scored in a match doesn’t relay the story enough, lets look at point difference at the end of the match. 50% of the matches in PKL S4 had a measly point difference of less than 5, with 5 matches tied. On the other hand less than 15% of the World Cup matches had a close finish with a point difference less than 5. The most interesting match was the first match between India and Korea where Korea edged the hosts by 2 points in the last minute. Its been all downhill since. In a recent one sided affair between Bangladesh and Australia, the Asian tigers trounced kangaroos by an un-friggin’ believable 80-8 difference!!!
Point Difference (Y axis) vs Total Points Scored (X axis). Close exciting matches occurred more often in PKL
As the match became a more high scoring one, the point difference also seemed to increase in the World Cup. This was clearly not the case in PKL Season 4.
Do they even know to play Kabaddi?
When you watch a match, the question that often pops in your head. Only the Asian teams of India, Korea, Iran, Thailand, Bangladesh and Japan seem to understand the nuances of the game (and some players in Kenya). Teams like USA, Australia, Argentina look totally clueless, almost as if they have learnt the sport by watching Youtube videos. Including these teams in a round-robin format simply dilutes the player interest and audience interest in the sport.
Few players like Jang Kun Lee, Fazel Atrachali and Khomsan Thongkham have been able outshine the rest of the brigade. This clearly shows the influence of playing in ProKabaddi League with Indian players and coach who bring an evolved sense to the game. For Kabaddi to become more inclusive, more players need to be given opportunities in the Indian league. This will only make Kabaddi more popular. Kabaddi India needs to conduct events, coaching camps in different countries to overcome the inhibition to play a contact sport like Kabaddi (mostly the developed nations of USA, Australia).