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December 15, 1998


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India take kabbadi gold

Harpal Singh Bedi in Bangkok

Defending champions India decimated Sri Lanka 76-13 for their fifth successive win in as many matches to virtually assure themselves of gold in the kabaddi competition of the 13th Asiad here on Tuesday.

The Indians led 36-8 at half time.

The two-time winners went on the rampage as their raiders made deep forays into the rival territory without facing any resistance or challenge.

''It was yet another no-contest,'' coach S P Singh said after the game.

'' We are giving all the ten players a chance to play," he said, adding, "That is why after the initial stages we withdraw our main players - Sanjeev Kumar, Ram Mehar Singh, B C Ramesh and Honappa -- so that others also could get a feel of the Asiad.''

The Lankans proved woefully inadequate in all departments of the game and ran out of breath and steam very easily in a one-sided affair.

Sanjeev Kumar, Ram Mehar Singh (9 each), Murganandan(7), B C Ramesh, Honappa (5 each) and Kiranpal (3) were the main scorers for the team, which is now assured of retaining the gold it won in Beijing (1990) and defended in Hiroshima (1994).

With gold assured, India returned in the afternoon to raid superbly and defend well, outclassing Japan 59-25 to make the gold a foregone conclusion.

This was India's second gold at the Asiad in as many days, after Jyotirmoyee Sikdar won the 1500m yesterday. ******** india won the inaugural kabaddi gold in 1990 at beijing and then in 1994 at hiroshima, and repeated the performance for the third time. The kabaddi team, which won all its six matches here with convincing margins, was hit by a controversy that was cleared by the delhi high court at the eleventh hour. ''we did not have any worthwhile challenge,'' a beaming coach s p singh said after his team won the gold. earlier in the morning, india decimated sri lanka 76-13. The silver and bronze will be decided tomorrow after pakistan play japan and bangladesh face sri lanka. Pakistan and bangladesh are tied up as they were involved in a drawn match. The medal ceremony will be held tomorrow and india's gold will also be shown in the medal tally after the competition is over. india led 34-8 at half time against japan. Japan was expected to give tough fight to india but their defence let them down. The indian raiders went deep into the japanese territory and scored points at will. The indian attack was led by ram mehar singh, sanjeev kumar, b c ramesh and honappa while in the defence kiranpal and muruganan were outstading and earned some good 'catches' after establishing a formidable 26 point lead (34-8) in the first half, the indians became bit complacent and conceded 17 points to their rivals while earning 25. Ram mehar singh (10), sanjeev kumar (7), b c ramesh and honappa (4 each) were the leading scorers for the winners. S p singh was full of praise for his boys saying '' they played for the country putting behind the unsavoury episode prior to the games which led to a court case in new delhi.'' ''we had promised gold to the nation and we got it for the country,'' s p singh said. '' our raiders were just excellent and defence too strong for the the opposition, he said adding that the team had only one player from the hiroshima asiad gold winning squad- skipper viswajit palit. Three others - murganan, b c ramesh and honappa - had represented the country in the 1995 saf games at chennai. Rest all are new players. Impressed by the agility and technique displayed by the japanese, he said, '' it was an impressive showing by japan and if they continue to practise like this they can be a serious threat to india in the next asian games.'' skipper vishwajit palit said, ''it is a proud moment for me as in the second successive asian games, i will be receiving the gold, the only difference being that this time i will be on the podium.'' thrilled by the way the indians played for the team and country, palit said, '' we just forgot the past, our aim was to hear the national anthem and hoisting of the tricolour when we go to receive the medals and we have achieved it.'' the gold medal-winning kabbadi team players will also receive one lakh baht from a local nri sushil saraf.

Mail Prem Panicker