In the thrilling men's kabaddi final between India and Iran at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, a dramatic turn unfolded right at the match's conclusion.
With just over a minute remaining, the Indian team's Pawan Sehrawat faced a critical do-or-die raid. During this raid, Pawan strayed out of bounds without making contact with any Iranian defenders. In response, Amirhossein Bastami and three other Iranian defenders swiftly rushed towards Pawan, attempting to push him out.
This resulted in a moment of chaos and confusion as it remained unclear whether Pawan had been successfully tackled or not. Initially, Iran was awarded a point for their efforts in halting Pawan. However, the Indian team, including players and officials, engaged in heated discussions with the on-court umpire and TV officials.
After a thorough review, the officials made a crucial decision, granting four points to India. It was noted that the number of points could vary based on the number of players who went out alongside Pawan.
This decision sparked protests from the Iranian team, who argued against it. According to the International Kabaddi rulebook, "If a defender or defenders who have touched the ground outside the boundary (as per rule 5) hold a raider, the raider will be declared NOT OUT. The defender or defenders who have gone out of bounds only will be declared out."
Ultimately, the final decision favored India, awarding them three points as three defenders went out with the raider. Iran received one point for forcing Pawan out.
"When Pawan (Sehrawat) raided, he got self-out after stepping on to the lobby area. While chasing him, four Iranians also entered the lobby area," coach Kavitha Selaraj said.
The lobby areas are the strips on either side of the mat which are considered active only when contact has been made between the raider and a defender.
As per the lobby rule, if a raider steps out of bounds and a defender follows him to the lobby area, he (the defender) is also ruled out.
"Under International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) rules, the Indian team was to get four points and Iran one point, but the referees gave just one point each," Kavitha added.
India then asked for a video review, and after several minutes they won. But mayhem followed later as it was the turn of the Iranians to protest to the referees who again changed the decision.
After that, the Indians sat on the mat for around one hour, holding up play.
"Finally, we got four points and Iran one with one minute left in the match. The score was 28-28 at that time," she added.
From 28-28, the scoreline became 32-29 and the match resumed and the remaining one minute was played.
India got one point in the remaining one minute and won 33-29 to win the gold.
This lobby rule was done away with in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) last year and a defender following a raider into the lobby is no longer eliminated. Only the raider is eliminated.
But the lobby rule still remains in the IKF rulebook.