The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup starts off on Friday in Ahmedabad, and will be held from 7 to 22 October. The 12 participating teams are India, USA, England, Australia, Iran, Poland, Thailand, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Argentina, and Kenya. Seven-time champions and favourites India will face South Korea in the opening match of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, to be held in Ahmedabad from 7 to 22 October.
India’s team will be led by Anup Kumar and the ‘Dream Team’ — as it has been called — has enough ammunition to lift the trophy. Coach Balwant Singh and assistant coach Bhaskaran Edachery have loads of experience, with both of them having a Pro Kabaddi title under their belts.
Here’s a look at the complete 14-member Indian squad for the World Cup:
1. Anup Kumar: Captain Anup Kumar has the ability to control the team in tight situations and is very composed on the mat. The raider’s special move is the toe touch. Making use of his long legs, Anup is a master of scoring touch points with a surprise stretch of the leg to catch the defenders flat-footed.
2. Manjeet Chhillar: Manjeet’s most lethal moves include the dash, block and a thigh hold. With brute strength, Manjeet often brings down a raider in just one heave. To add to it, the all-rounder has an excellent sense of timing and more often than not pounces at the right time.
3. Surender Nada: Surender Nada is known for his ankle hold. Playing at the left corner position, the defender waits for the raider to stick a leg out to claim a bonus or touch point before pouncing on it. Raiders have found it extremely difficult to escape his ankle hold once caught, thus making him one of the favourites to start for India at the left corner position.
4. Rahul Chaudhary: Rahul Chaudhary is an extremely agile raider who can leave opposition defences in a spin with his quick moves. The 23-year-old has the ability to score points in a heap, and is capable of single-handedly leading his team to a victory. It will be very difficult for coach Balwant Singh to ignore the influential raider from his scheme of things when picking his starting seven.
5. Mohit Chhillar: Body block is one of the moves that Mohit Chhillar has developed over the past few years. Playing at the right corner position, Mohit’s swift body blocks have taken down most famed raiders. The defender has constantly improved and is a favourite to start at the right corner position for India at the Kabaddi World Cup.
6. Jasvir Singh: Raider Jasvir Singh’s biggest strength is the scorpion kick. Jasvir is bit of a maverick and nobody knows what you will get from him. On his day, there are very few players who are more destructive that him.
7. Surjeet Narwal: Surjeet is known for his powerful blocks that can take down even the most fierce raiders in the game. In addition, the timing of the right corner defender’s blocks is usually perfect and that makes opponents wary of him. Surjeet has been in excellent form in 2016 and hence his selection for the Indian team doesn’t come as a surprise.
8. Dharmaraj Cheralathan: Dharmaraj Cheralathan is India’s most capped kabaddi star, and brings with him a career’s worth of experience at the highest level. Having been part of the team for over a decade, the defender will not only play a major role while trapping a raider, but also in organising the team during an opponent raid. Cheralathan may not start every game for India at the Kabaddi World Cup, but the veteran will have plenty to contribute.
9. Pardeep Narwal: Pardeep Narwal is a raider who has used the dubki to great effect. In this, he uses his agility to dive under a defender’s leap and escape from his clutches, to take home full points. Pardeep has used the dubki to great effect and no defence has yet had an answer to it. Coming into the Kabaddi World Cup in red-hot from, Pardeep could be India’s deadliest weapon.
10. Nitin Tomar: Nitin Tomar’s special move is the toe touch. With agile leg movements, Tomar is a real threat for corner defenders, who have often become victims of the lethal move. The raider’s key strength also lies in coming away with bonus points at crucial junctures, thus keeping the scoreboard ticking with minimal risk of getting caught.
11. Sandeep Narwal: Sandeep is a spirited player and his all-round abilities make him an asset for every team he plays in. The all-rounder has one of the most efficient blocks and torso holds in the game and his aggression will come in very handy for India. Sandeep though faces competition from Mohit Chhillar for a place in the right corner position, but his ability to fit in any defensive position and good raiding skills could see him grab a starting spot in the Indian team at the World Cup.
12. Kiran Parmar: Kiran Parmar is an experienced defender and raider. Parmar started his kabaddi career fairly young by representing his schools in nationals tournament. Being a specialist in left corner touch, he will be a key addition to the Indian team for the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.
13. Ajay Thakur: Ajay Thakur’s biggest weapon is the running hand touch. While it’s a common move which is used by many raiders, Thakur’s success rate with it is immaculate. With his long hands, the lanky raider can stretch to get a touch point while charging towards the defenders. The raider has also mastered the frog jump, that sees him fly away from the defenders.
14. Deepak Hooda: Deepak Hooda’s obvious strength is his all-round ability. Deepak is equally able in his duties as a raider or a defender. However in season four of the Pro Kabaddi League, Deepak performed well for Puneri Paltan in the do-or-die raids. With India not having any other specific player in the squad for this role, Deepak could end up doing that job for India.