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Pawan Sehrawat roars back after 8-month break as India crowned Asian champions

India beat Iran to win their 8th Asian Kabaddi Championship title, but the resurgent Pawan Sehrawat reminds that the main aim remains payback at the Asian Games.

Pawan Sehrawat roars back after 8-month break as India crowned Asian champions

Pawan Sehrawat made a big comeback from 8-month injury hiatus to win the Asian Kabaddi Championship with the Indian team. (source: Instagram/Pawan Sehrawat)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 30 Jun 2023 12:00 PM GMT

As India were crowned Asian champions after beating Iran in the Asian Kabaddi Championships final in Busan, Korea on Friday, it was a familiar face at the centre of it all.

Pawan Sehrawat, returning from a nine-month injury hiatus, laid down the gauntlet with his second super 10 of the tournament India's 42-32 victory.

"I am feeling very good. I am playing Kabaddi after months, so this feels good," Pawan Sehrawat told The Bridge.

"Our main target is to bring back the Asian Games gold. The whole team as a unit is determined to give their 100% to do that," he said.

If there were any doubts about how Sehrawat would perform after his long layover after an ACL surgery, the vice-captain laid them to rest with his commanding performance at the Asian Championships over the last week as India won their eighth title in nine editions. He executed crucial tackle points in crunch situations and raised his game against Iran, scoring back-to-back super 10s against them.

The matches against Iran were closely contested, on one occasion even leading the umpire to become involved in tackling players. The wins against them please the Indian team, especially because this event is acting as a precursor to the Asian Games - where the Indian team will have a point to prove later this year.

In the 2018 Asian Games, when India failed to reach the final, thus ending years of domination, it was Iran who halted the run. Sehrawat said the present batch can win back the lost gold medal this time.

"We have a balanced and young team (at the 2022 Asian Games). We have experienced guys like Surjeet Bhai and young players too. Ashan sir (coach) has a very aggressive mindset, and he has built a team where we have more dynamic players," he said.

"Youngsters like Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat are in the team as they can raid and pick crucial defensive points also," he added.

Return from a long Injury break

When Sehrawat attended a national camp in Patna back in May, he heaved a sigh of relief.

Back in October 2022, he had suffered a freak injury while playing his first game in season 9 of the Pro Kabaddi League for his new team Tamil Thalaivas. In the game against Gujarat Giants, Pawan twisted his knee while attempting a tackle on Chandran Ranjit. In visible pain, he had to be stretchered out by the medical team.

Soon after, the most expensive player in the PKL history was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Speaking about his rehabilitation process, Pawan said, "I was doing my rehab at the Inspire Institute of Sports. My physio was Manish, and Dinesh looked after my training and recovery. Manish was my guide on the mat. He would make me do things like moving on the mat and doing weight training. He helped me improve my footwork and strengthen my shoulder."

Known for his high-flying moves and strength, Pawan was the best raider in three consecutive seasons of the PKL before his run was halted by the injury last season.

Evidently back to his brutal best, Sehrawat warned that he is now playing at an even better level than before the injury.

"My speed has improved now, and there are a few more positive changes in the way I am playing too," he concluded.

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