Iran was the first to get to the final deflating Pakistan team by a 19-point margin in a 40-21 win. On paper it was an easy victory, but it meant a great deal for Iran who were upset by Pakistan in the Asian Championship semi-final in November.
Later, India led by skipper Ajay Thakur won a one-sided 36-20 against South Korea to set up a repeat of the 2016 World Cup final in Ahmedabad that the hosts came from behind to win.
At the Al Wasl Indoor Stadium, both teams have unveiled fresh talent. India has done away with the elder guard that had the likes of veteran raiders Anup Kumar and Jasvir Singh.
The newcomers are among kabaddi’s first ever crorepatis (from the recent Pro Kabaddi League auction) Rishank Devadiga and record price acquisition Rs 1.51 crore Monu Goyat.
Though, Iran’s transition is based more on necessity. Their below-par performance at the Asian Championships exposed the lack of depth in the squad. The new coach Gholamreza Mazandara brought in younger players in the squad and giving them for some much-needed experience on the big stage at this tournament and with the new generation of players coming in, Iran has turned up the style.