The Asian Games final saw the Indian women’s kabaddi team defeat Chinese Taipei, and the players found it difficult to contain their emotions. India triumphed 26–25 over their opponents in a thrilling match to win the gold medal, their 100th at the Hangzhou Games. The referee sounded the full-time whistle, and the Indian players started crying, happy tears streaming down their faces. The players celebrated the momentous occasion for the nation by giving each other hugs.
In women’s kabaddi, which was first introduced at the 2010 Asian Games, this was India’s third gold medal. India placed first in the 2010 and 2014 competitions, but after losing to Iran in the championship match, had to settle for silver in 2018.
This time, the Indians were up against the rising kabaddi nation of Chinese Taipei in a summit confrontation that was close to the wire.
After the group league match, the two teams were tied 34–34 and realized it would be a difficult finale.
A brilliant assault by Pooja, one of the stars of the thrilling championship game that also saw the team’s coach given a warning and a green card, put India far ahead at 14-9 at the break.The lead shifted several times during the tense, thrilling display of excellent play from both teams during the next fifteen minutes.
Soon after the match resumed, Chinese Taipei reduced India’s lead to 16–14 points. Less than five minutes remained, and Chinese Taipei secured an important video referral, with India leading 19–17.
Chinese Taipei took the lead from that point on. When a Chinese Taipei player launched the raid, there were just two Indian players left on the field. As soon as she made contact with the backline, one Indian player was eliminated, and the other was unable to capture the opposing raider.
Chinese Taipei led 21-19 after scoring four points, two from the raid and two for sending India All Out.
Pooja then cut the lead to 20–21 after earning one point from her raid. The onus was on India to level the score so that the next Chinese Taipei raider could not score any points.
At this juncture, Pushpa was about to launch a raid when captain Ritu Negi made the brilliant choice to halt her. Rather than sending Pooja, she sent him, and he did an amazing job, giving India two points to lead 22-21.
The game was not yet over, and it became increasingly intense as the two teams locked in at 22–22, 23–23, and 24–24.
With 53 seconds remaining at that time, raider Pushpa won a point for India. Chinese Taipei requested a review, but it was denied, ensuring India would win the match.
With their raider, Chinese Taipei gained a point, bringing the score down to 25–26. The Indians wasted the last few seconds of the game before leaping into each other’s arms in joy.