Notably, Pakistan has been barred from participating in the event due to mounting tensions between the two countries. The tournament kicks off on Friday with an encounter between hosts India and South Korea and another game later to be played between Iran and new comers United States.
Top sides Australia, England, Poland, Kenya and Argentina are also competing in the event. Like always India go into the tournament as clear favourites. With the start of Pro Kabaddi League, Kabaddi has become immensely popular in India. Kabaddi has turned into a mainstream sport and its players are now considered as superstars in the country.
33-year old Anup Kumar will lead the 14-member experienced Indian squad. Rahul Chaturvedi and Pardeep Narwal, who are popular names in PKL will lead India's attack while Bengaluru Bulls players Mohit Chillar and Surender Nada are most likely to be the pillars of defence.
Iran is the next strongest side in the competition after India. The south Asian nation has improved by leaps and bounds after the team finished at the fourth position in the 2006 Asian Games. Iran also made it to the finals of two World Cups in 2004 and 2007.
If any country has shown rapid progress in Kabaddi after India and Iran, it is South Korea. In fact, the Koreans have innovated kabaddi into an extension of their martial art form – taekwondo. Kabaddi is now a university sport in South Korea. The country finished with a bronze in the 2016 Asian Games held at Incheon along with Pakistan. So let's see, if any of these sides can topple over India as the reigning champions.
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